Maybe some fans don’t think it’s all that important who the Edmonton Oilers name to replace Hall-of-Famer Rod Phillips as the radio voice of the team, but I beg to differ.
That’s why I’m looking forward to an announcement, one I understand will likely come by the end of this week, as to who will take over from the retired Phillips along analyst Bob Stauffer in the booth.
A big announcement?
I think so, when you consider Phillips did the job with distinction for 36 seasons, which I’d guess is longer than most of the readers of this website have been alive. The man who calls the play sells the brand. The man who welcomes fans to listen before the puck drops becomes a part of franchise folklore — for better or worse.
The Oilers, as I’ve said more than once — not that it’s a bolt of genius out of the blue — have to get it right. They’ve done their due diligence to make sure of that in a process that could see us get a name by Friday.
We’ll find out soon enough if they succeeded.
GETTING IT RIGHT
"This is absolutely an important decision," Allan Watt, vice-president of communications and broadcast, told me Monday night. "We have to do every bit of homework.
"When the person, whoever it is, goes on the air, hopefully for a lot of years, it’s the Oilers. It’s our brand. That’s the way it was with Rod and that’s the way it’s going to be."
My understanding, although Watt would not confirm it, is the hunt for Phillips replacement is down to five candidates. That, after getting more than 50 applications for the position. With the wannabes and guys out of their league, literally, told "no thanks," the Oilers have begun interviewing the short-listers.
The people making the call on this are team president Patrick LaForge, executive vice-resident of commercial operations Stew MacDonald, vice-president of sales Brad MacGregor, senior vice-president of marketing Steve Katzman and Watt.
If I had the short list, I’d give it to you. I don’t.
OVER TO YOU, BOB
One of the prime considerations when it comes to who gets the job will be who is capable of teaming with Stauffer, who just had his contract extended by the Oilers.
Like it or not — and some people don’t — the outspoken Stauffer, who also hosts Oilers Lunch on TEAM 1260 five days a week, is a significant cog in the Oilers broadcast plans. While the Oilers want Bombastic Bob to grow Oilers Lunch, he was brought in to upgrade and bolster game broadcasts two years ago. In my opinion, he’s done that.
"It’s got to be the right mix with Bob," Watt said. "He’s got a strong personality and he brings a lot to the broadcasts. We value that and we know chemistry is very important." We heard that chemistry at play when Stauffer filled in for Phillips on the play-by-play and Kevin Karius of Global TV jumped in as analyst. That was good radio. They worked very well together. You can put two good radio men in the same booth and not get that result.
Anyway, I don’t know if the new name will be a well-known big-hitter or a hotshot out of the WHL, but we’ll find out soon enough. Then, it’ll be time to listen and decide if the Oilers made the right call on the guy making the call.
As I suggested here back on July 29, it sounds like the Oilers — as well as the Calgary Flames — are about to announce a new television deal with Sportsnet One that will see them have 58 games broadcast on Sportsnet this coming season. I’m assuming the Oilers will announce the details at some point today.