USA Hockey Magazine

February 2017

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E N D BOA R DS 56 // FEBRUARY 2017 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM A Passion For The Game Works Overtime "I feel like I'm an extension of the fan. Hockey is supposed to be fun; it's supposed to be entertaining. I try to convey that when I broadcast a game." g By Steve Levy for the past seven years. I keep waiting for them to say, 'Hey Steve, we have someone else this year.' But I tell them that as long as they keep inviting me I'll keep showing up and do the best I can. Whether I'm calling a regu- lar-season NHL game or a World Cup of Hockey contest, I feel like I'm an extension of the fan. Hockey is supposed to be fun; it's supposed to be entertaining. I try to convey that when I broadcast a game. I try to use that same style when I'm emceeing these induction cere- monies. I try to set the stage and then get out of the way and listen to these great people talk. After all, it's about those individuals who have done so much for our game. When these players and coach- es go into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, they get introspective as they look back at the journey of where hockey has taken them, what the game means to them and what they've meant to the sport. Their passion for the game never dies. It blows my mind that these guys are the toughest people around, and when they get up on stage and you can see that they have the same emotions as the rest of us. You saw that at this year's cere- mony in Philadelphia when Chris Chelios was moved to tears as he talked about being part of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey team that many call "the greatest gen- eration of American hockey." It's something I'll never forget. And in my own small way, whether I'm broadcasting a game or emceeing a Hall of Fame ceremony, I have that same passion for this great game. P grew up on Long Island in the era when the New York Islanders were a dynasty, win- ning four consecutive Stanley Cups. Looking back, that was the best hockey I've ever seen. The Islanders were so good at every aspect of the game. I always mar- veled that they could play any style. They were as tough as any team or they could out-finesse you as well. Even though I lived about 12 min- utes away from Nassau Coliseum and went to a ton of games, I was a big Rangers fan. I was definitely in the minority walking through the halls of my high school wearing my Carol Vadnais Rangers jersey. I took a lot of grief because it always seemed like the Rangers just could not get past the Islanders in the playoffs. We lived on a small street that was a perfect location for street hockey. We played almost every day. It didn't matter what the weather was. If it was snowing, we wore boots. In the summer, we were on roller skates. My passion for the game sprung up from those streets of Merrick, N.Y., and followed me to Bristol, Conn., where I joined the ranks at ESPN in 1993. While I am mostly involved with Monday Night Football, college football and SportsCenter, people who know me always know that hock- ey has always been my first love. Back when I started at ESPN, the network had the contract to broadcast NHL games, and it wasn't long before I was assigned to cover a playoff game at the old Cap Centre between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. I remember being so jazzed to do the game. And when the game head- ed into overtime I was still fired up. As the game kept going on past the first overtime, into the second and onto the third, I remember being physically and mentally fatigued. Throughout the course of NHL history there have been plenty of overtime playoff games, and a bunch of double overtime games. But once you get into a triple over- time game in the Stanley Cup play- offs, you're entering sacred ground. You really want to be sharp because that call is going to be replayed over and over again. Who knew that experience would serve me well years later when I would broadcast a pair of five-overtime games? The first took place in 2000 when the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers would play the longest televised game in NHL history. I also worked a similar five-overtime affair between the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Dallas Stars in 2003. Someone thought it would be cute to give me the nickname "Mr. Overtime." To this day, even though I'm not doing play by play, I'll walk into a press box and writers will say, "We're going to overtime." Even though I didn't do anything to impact the game, it's not a bad thing to be attached to such an exciting part of hockey history. Speaking of history, I've also been honored to emcee the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony Join the discussion on Twitter with #USAEndBoards and by following @USAHMagazine Who's your favorite hockey announcer of all- time, and why? (Editor's Note: As USA Hockey celebrates its 80th anniversary, we have asked some of the biggest names in the game, from administrators to players to hockey-loving celebrities, to share some of their thoughts about the growth of the game in the United States. This month we hear from ESPN announcer and passionate hockey fan Steve Levy.) I

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