Posted By: Aaron Sims
It was a great thrill for me to call a period with NHL analyst Darren Pang at last Friday’s Admirals game against San Antonio.
Pang was in town for "Darren Pang Bobblehead Night". He traveled to Milwaukee between games for the St. Louis Blues, the team he currently works for as a TV analyst.
I’d spoken to Pang on the phone several times the last few years. My esteemed co-host on “Milwaukee Admirals Center Ice”, Mike Wojciechowski, has known Darren for years because Pang played here in the 1984-85 season. Wojo has kept in touch with a LOT of former Admirals and Pang was always nice to give us his time and thoughts on the radio show.
He came into the media room Friday night and Wojo introduced us to one another. Pang seems like a happy-go-lucky guy, so I thought I’d make an impression. We shook hands as we said hello. Darren said to me, “So, we’ll be working together tonight.” I said, “I’m looking forward to it…just don’t step on me.” I tried to say it very seriously and keep a straight face. Panger laughed and seemed to enjoy the exchange. He then was off to chat with Admirals head coach Lane Lambert. The two have a mutual friend in Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman.
There are a lot of ex-jocks doing color commentary for TV and radio. The guys in hockey are the best. Pang can explain the game and he doesn’t sound condescending to the audience. Bill Clement is wonderful at that task, too. A lot of color commentators think they’re funny (when they’re not). A lot are afraid to criticize their former peers and a lot come off thinking they’re smarter than they are.
I can see that Chad Clifton made a nice block. I don’t need someone to say, “Nice block by Clifton.” That’s not adding anything. But, too often, that’s the commentary we’re left with.
Pang came into the booth in the second period and asked if I was ready to go. I replied I was and he said, “Don’t step on me.” We laughed and exchanged a high-five (yes, a high-five). Having worked for the Coyotes for a while, Darren knew several of the players for San Antonio that night. He was also aware of Nashville’s draft record. Even doing a guest spot, it was clear he’d done a lot of homework along the way.
I told Darren on his way out that I think he’s as good an analyst as there is in sports. I was very sincere. He’s entertaining, he knows what he’s talking about and he gives the viewer something he/she doesn’t get much anymore: the “why”. Why did this play happen? Why was this play designed? Why did the coach use a certain player?
I’ve been lucky to participate in some special moments with the Admirals. I was flattered to be the on-ice emcee when Tony Hrkac had his number retired. I get to host “Admirals All Access” on TV and “Center Ice” on the radio. I’ve been an auctioneer at charity events and now I’ve been able to call a game with a man at the top of HIS game. Thanks for a memorable night, Darren Pang.