Golden chords making for golden nights in Vegas
(Photo courtesy of Vegas Golden Knights communications)
The names are recognizable – their golden voices significantly more. Al Michaels and Mike “Doc” Emrick. Marquee names in national sports broadcasting; Michaels early on and Emrick now the best on the frozen sheet.
Add one Dave Goucher to the up-and-coming instantly recognizable voices across the NHL – 17 years within earshot of a slapshot in any previous Boston Bruins radio broadcast. And now in Las Vegas where Goucher is the broadcasting face of the new Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Serenading the Vegas Strip – and well beyond – with his play-by-play and calls on Golden Knights GOALS, Goucher is going national. While the Bruins broadcast map is mostly New England, Goucher’s imprimatur with the Golden Knights extends quite farther.
“The expanse of the broadcast to Montana and Idaho and Southern California and all of Nevada, it’s a huge coverage map,” Goucher said about his new desert digs with color commentator and former Bruin Shane Hnidy. “It’s fresh and different and a new challenge for me. It’s invigorating.”
So is the NHL’s newest franchise, off to a historic best start at 8-3-0 into Thursday night’s hometown reunion for Goucher with the Golden Knight’s coming to TD Garden.
“Up until two months ago, nobody ever offered a TV job,” Goucher told Bruins daily. “I did a few TV games for NBC Sports and some college games. The adrenaline rush of live TV kind of stayed with me. I was really just trying to grow and get better as an announcer and challenge myself. If I was going to make a move in my career after 24 years in radio, this was the time to do it. It was too good to pass up.”
That 24-year run to the most electric piece of real estate on the planet has all of its roots in the Boston area.
Goucher, a Pawtucket, Rhode Island, native, headed 60 miles up Route 95 to the BU School of Communications. And the rest became an evolving path up the rungs to the spiffy Golden Knight’s T-Mobile Arena in the middle of the Strip.
“I went to BU for two reasons,” Goucher said about the genesis. “One they had a good school for communication and two they had a real good hockey team. I had this pipe dream I could play a little JV hockey but that didn’t work out so the idea of broadcasting was floating around in my head at 18 or 19 years old. But you don’t realize what it takes to advance in the business.”
That floating got him behind the mic. “I did the BU hockey games on the student radio station WTBU my junior and senior years. Maybe 40-45 total games that back in the old days of cassettes had enough material to put together a decent enough resume on a cassette.
“I never heard of the place in my life,” Goucher said about where that cassette led him on the next career rung. “Wheeling West, Virginia, in the East Coast League [ECHL] for two years. I did that for two years but a great situation because in 1993-95 when I was there, the Pittsburgh Penguins had just won back-to-back Cups only an hour away. It helped me to grow and develop.”
Leaving Wheeling was an easy decision for the next stop.
“Then came Providence from 1995-2000. I was able to move back home to Rhode Island and climb another step on the ladder,” Goucher recalled. “Doing your hometown AHL team was as good as you could ask for.”
The quantum leap came in 2000. And not without his stiffest competition to date.
“Bob Neumeier was doing the Bruins radio,” Goucher related. “He decided to move on and 60 people threw their hat in the ring. That got narrowed to 10 – then five. We went into an empty conference room back then. Bob Beers was already in place. We called a period of a Bruins game off a silent small monitor long before the 60-inch screens. I think they were also looking for some chemistry. I knew Bob a bit because he played some in Providence when I was there.
“They called and said ‘We’d like you to be the next radio voice of the Bruins.’
“Sounds like an offer I can accept.”
For the next 17 years, Beers and Goucher became the Bruins’ radio duo on 98.5 The Sports Hub, while Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley teamed to date as NESN’s TV team. Judd Siriott and Beers are now the radio team for 98.5.
“He’s very good at what he does,” Goucher said about working with Beers. “A lot of former players can analyze and break down the game. But his ability to read it and describe it so people understand it is exceptional. We worked together so long you get sense of where each other is going.”
No shortage of big-time announcing opportunities for Goucher and Beers.
“Did a lot of big games; Stanley Cup games and Winter Classics,” Goucher added about his high profile assignments with Beers. “We developed a chemistry that almost an unspoken language – a good feel on the air.”
The biggest good-feel moments?
“Yeah, the Cup Final was the pinnacle. That did make it easier to move on here [to Vegas] being able to call a Stanley Cup. There’s not a lot of people fortunate to do that – and the comeback against Toronto in Game 7 in 2013 are pretty high up there. So many good games on those runs in ‘11 and ’13.”
Most Americans vividly recall Michaels’ memorable “Do you believe in miracles?” in the last seconds of the USA hockey team taking down Russia in the 1980 Olympics.
For Goucher, the last game of the 2011 season was in Vancouver for all the marbles in Lord Stanley’s Cup. How did he prepare for those possible signature syllables in Bruins broadcasting lore?
“One of the things you don’t want to screw it up; you only get one chance,” Goucher said.
“The Duck Boats were in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until the morning of Game 7 that I gave it some thought. I’m not a fan of scripting word for word. You had to remember the Red Sox had won two World Series, the Patriots three Super Bowls and the Celtics in 2008. If the Bruins win tonight, they get to have their own [Duck Boat] parade.”
At the final horn of that 4-0 win for the franchise’s sixth Cup, Goucher’s chords bellowed: “Get the Duck Boats ready!!”
Among the best of the best in hockey radio broadcasting, what are the challenges of moving to the visual side?
“TV is a lot more involved, to be honest,” Goucher said. “The whole production of television is much more than radio. There were three of four of us in the [radio] booth. On TV you have a truck full of people and a variety of production and stat people and camera people. But I like that being more involved; the excitement of it.”
Homecoming for Dave Goucher Thursday night.
“I might walk into the wrong booth,” he laughed. “I still own a house nine miles from the Garden so it is going back home. It will be odd, but the Bruins were in Vegas in mid-October so that was strange. But this will be stranger to go back to the Garden where I spent 17 years knowing all the people on Level 9 and the security people and familiar faces. But I loved my time there.”
As did many thousands for Goucher’s play-by-play for every Black and Gold game. And legions to come in that desert out west.