As a small boy growing up in Springfield, Mass., John Forslund had a dream to become an announcer in the NHL. Like many kids with hockey dreams, Forslund cheered for his hometown team, the Boston Bruins, and idolized the legendary Bobby Orr. He’s currently an announcer with the Carolina Hurricanes and Versus network, having started with the Hartford Whalers back in ’95. I had a chance to talk to Forslund about the long journey, his catch phrase and how his idol played a role in his becoming an announcer.
The journey begins at his home in Springfield as a 10 yr old boy, who began his career commentating to his father and friends. After graduating from Springfield College, he worked for the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League from ’84-’91. While gaining great experience for little pay, Forslund played several roles including announcer and publicist. After 7 years, he wondered if he was ever going to achieve his dream.
Forslund got a break in ’91, from all people, Bobby Orr. The Indians were affiliated with the Hartford Whalers for which Orr was on the Advisory Board. “Bobby was familiar with my work and put a word in with GM Eddie Johnston and coach Jim Roberts” Forslund stated. That meeting help Forslund get a PR job with the Whalers at age 29. In 94-95, the Whalers were acquired by Peter Karmonos and Forslund got his first opportunity to announce as part of a local package of 8 televised hockey games. That audition was cut short to 1 game because of the NHL lockout that year, but lead to his first full season of announcing in ’95.
Forslund spoke of the last game that was televised in Hartford before moving to Carolina. “It was a very emotional game and everyone was in tears from the camera man to the producer. The final game, which didn’t have any playoff implications, was played against the Tampa Bay Lightning. ” Forslund begun the telecast by stating, “For a game that is meaningless, this means everything!”
Since then, he’s announced for both the Carolina Hurricanes and NHL on Versus. When asked about a humorous moment in his announcing career, he recalls being on a 16 day road trip in which the Hurricanes were playing very well and winning a number of games thru late comebacks. ” In one game, my voice cracked a couple of times and ESPN picked up on it and referred to me as Peter Brady of the Brady Bunch”.
For viewers of the Canes or on Versus, you may have heard Forslund’s catchphrase “Hey, hey whadda ya say”. When asked how that came about, he explained that it was something his father used to say and one day he decided to incorporate it into his games. Sadly, Forslund’s father passed away before John received his first NHL paycheck, but John pays tribute to his father every time he says the phrase.
Like many journey’s, the road can be long and sometimes challenging. That appreciation allows Forslund to comes to the rink with the same enthusiasm he did when he first started. He’s just living the dream.