1,000 miles away, Canes broadcasters will call action as NHL playoffs begin

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Friday, July 31, 2020
Tripp Tracy and Mike Maniscalco discuss the challenges of calling the game from 1,000 miles away.
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Tripp Tracy and Mike Maniscalco discuss the challenges of calling the game from 1,000 miles away.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tripp Tracy has been working on the Carolina Hurricanes broadcast for more than two decades and Wednesday's exhibition game was a first for him, commentating from more than 1,000 miles away.

"I sort of stand up for probably 60 percent of a normal broadcast and then sit in my seat for the other 40 percent," he said. "The only reason I stand up is because I feel like it keeps me sharper. In this particular case, you have to sit down because your monitors are right there. That's one adjustment that I made."

It was an adjustment for play-by-play broadcaster Mike Maniscalco, too.

"That was the first time I've ever done play-by-play off of a monitor," Maniscalco said. "It was a little strange, but once the game got going and you found a rhythm, it got a little bit easier, but you always feel like you're behind the play a little bit trying to follow what's going on."

Tracy and Maniscalco are sitting in the same position as they would if the game were being played at PNC Arena -- in the broadcast booth. The only difference is now there's plexiglass separating them.

"If there was a situation where I just wanted to make a quick point during play to get his attention, I might have just knocked on the plexiglass that was separating us," Tracy said. "I don't want to disturb him but just knocking on the plexiglass ... I think in a way it simplifies things and it gives you a chance to storytell more ... I enjoy that part of it."

Full interview: Canes announcers prepare for playoffs from afar

Being in the booth gives the broadcast a feel of authenticity.

"Getting into the booth with Tripp, it was like putting on a good pair of shoes that fit just right for me," Maniscalco said. "All I had to do was put one foot in front of the other; I knew he was going to take care of the rest."

Maniscalco, who had a health scare last October, said he's incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do play-by-play for the Carolina Hurricanes.

"There has not been a day that's past since what's happened in October and the wrong turn that I took there in San Jose where after I got the diagnosis and after everything happened and I got the all-clear, that I haven't been thankful and grateful for these moments just to get back," he said. "The thing about hockey is it really is ... these guys are my family. I just know how lucky I am, literally how lucky I am to be in this position."

Maniscalco is highly regarded by peers and players alike, Tracy said.

"If you knew how much individually and collectively, and that's led by Jordan Staal, how much the guys care about Big Rig Maniscalco, that's what hockey is all about," Tracy said.

After four-and-a-half months away from the game and stepping into a new role, Maniscalco said everyone behind the scenes has made him feel more comfortable and excited for the restart.

"Jim, the producer, he's the best in the business," Maniscalco said. "I was nervous yesterday, and Jim made everything super easy and calm. I can't thank him for that, everybody behind the scenes I don't think I can give the people behind the scenes enough praise.

"We played the national anthems yesterday in their entireties; that was the moment for me," he added. "Before the game and before the call, where the hairs on my arm started to raise up, and I was like this is happening again, and I really missed it."

As for the on-ice action...

"We had a birds-eye view," Tracy said referring to last year's playoffs. "We were practically reaching out and touching Jordan Staal when he scored that beauty in overtime to win Game 1 against the Islanders and, I was so excited for Mike, I reached out and grabbed him, and I said, 'consume me, consume me!' And unfortunately with the plexiglass, if he calls a winner tomorrow and it goes to overtime, I am certainly going to respect the plexiglass and social distancing, but I will be doing the jig myself in full-blown consumption, happy for Mike and most happy for this outstanding Hurricanes group and let's just hope it goes that way."

Sara Civian, Canes reporter for The Athletic, discusses coverage challenges

Gameday will look a lot different for Hurricanes reporters as well, including The Athletic's Sara Civian, who said she's hoping to keep things as normal as possible.

"It's strange," she said. "I know they're doing it in a bubble to protect us and protect them and make sure we get hockey back and see it until the end. I totally support that."