RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tripp Tracy is pretty blunt when it comes to discussing his broadcast chops when he first teamed up with John Forslund.
"To say I was raw would be the understatement of maybe multiple centuries."
It was indeed a little bumpy out of the gates in 1998. If you'd have told Forslund they'd be a finely tuned machine 22 years later, he'd have scoffed.
"At that point, we were hoping just to work the next day, OK?" he said.
Tracy smiles while remembering their initial broadcast.
"Our first game together was the Greensboro Coliseum against Tampa. And then he had me over to his house for chips and salsa the next night on a Sunday night to watch it again. I said the word 'certainly' I think 97 times before we were past the halfway point of regulation."
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Forslund remembers it well.
"I made him count the redundancies, yeah," he recalled. "He said there's no chance, I said let's just watch this."
The lessons from Forslund were always steeped in encouraging Tracy to find his footing as a broadcaster.
"He said always establish a work ethic, and he said 'Tripp - whoever you are, be yourself.'"
Those early days made for some memorable moments, like a winter trip to Canada's capital city that Tracy recalled.
"Pretty cold in Ottawa, snowy conditions outside," he said. "John had on a dark trench coat, his glasses, sideburns, and this woman walked up. She in the most flattering manner said to him, you look like Clark Kent. You are Superman."
While they were starting to click as a tandem, there were definitely some glitches along the way. Tracy detailed one Sunday afternoon game in Anaheim. 2 minutes from the top of the broadcast and he couldn't remember the name of the opposing head coach.
"Mine is easy, OK, and I deserve definitely every bit of it. I said to him at the time, on the air I said, I said after I didn't know who the coach was, I said, 'John I think you just mispronounced a name.' I don't think he talked to me for at least a week, other than when we were on the air," Tracy said.
Forslund added: "When you didn't know the head coach's name, and this is just before we went on the air, I took the media guide, and I handed it to him and I said page 7."
Years of broadcasts and plane rides next to each other gradually created a chemistry that can't be faked.
As Forslund explains, "Hockey is like a free-flowing symphony at times where you just kind of interject at the right times and that is a learned behavior for both of us. It's not very easy."
There is mutual respect and lots of mutual ribbing.
"That million-dollar smile, which is, which is always there even when he senses trouble. He has a, he has a habit of having that smile going." Forslund said.
But most of all, there's genuine friendship, nothing you see or hear is a put-on. Or as Forslund puts it, "If you see us on the air. I think you see us."
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