This just in, the Seattle Kraken have reportedly hired Cincinnati Cyclones play by play broadcaster Everett Fitzhugh to call games for the team when they enter the NHL in 2021-22. With the hiring, Fitzhugh becomes the first black team employed play by play broadcaster in the NHL.
Check it out:
BREAKING: The Seattle Kraken have made NHL history by hiring the league's first Black team broadcaster in Cincinnati Cyclones play-by-play announcer Everett Fitzhugh.
Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic covered the news of Fitzhugh's hiring and goes into fantastic detail about what a smart and progressive hiring this way.
From Clark's column:
In February, Fitzhugh, the radio play-by-play announcer for the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones and the only Black broadcaster at any professional level of North American hockey, was the subject of a profile story in The Athletic. Several people throughout the sport learned about Fitzhugh — and his goal to someday become a play-by-play broadcaster for an NHL franchise — for the first time. Little did he know that one of the people who read that story was Kraken CEO and Team President Tod Leiweke, who had already heard about Fitzhugh from NBC’s Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick.
Leiweke sent Fitzhugh an email, which the announcer initially thought was spam. Only to then realize this was a legitimate correspondence from an actual NHL executive. Leiweke explained how he liked Fitzhugh’s story and that he would like to connect with him about a potential opportunity with the club. They spoke a few days later in what Fitzhugh described as “an amazing conversation.”
The plan was for Fitzhugh to fly to Seattle during the summer. COVID-19 slightly altered those plans. Fitzhugh said he thought about reaching out to Leiweke in the following months, but figured conversations would resume at some point when the franchise that would eventually be christened the Kraken was ready. In late May, Leiweke emailed Fitzhugh to ask him if he was still interested in working for the team.
Flash forward past the tense job interviews and finally Fitzhugh and his fiance Shelley Pinto got the news:
“Those next few days were tense until he got the call,” Pinto said. “Because I am sappy, I cried when he got the call. I definitely got teary-eyed, and I shed a few tears. … It’s surreal. It’s so exciting because I don’t think this could have happened to a better person. Everyone that meets him in my life — from friends to coworkers — is like, ‘Oh, this guy is fantastic.’ You feel good as soon as he is in your presence.”
Fitzhugh’s official title is team broadcaster. The franchise is still sorting through broadcast rights deals, but the Kraken wanted to hire Fitzhugh now anyway. It is possible he could become Seattle’s play-by-play radio announcer or serve in another broadcasting role as the team gets closer to playing in the 2021-22 season. For now, the plan is for Fitzhugh to be one of the faces — and voices — of the Kraken.
For the full column from Ryan Clark, click below: