“Announcement on Wild’s play-by-play voice delayed by backlash” read the Minneapolis Star-Tribune headline just two days after the paper’s Michael Russo reported the Wild and Fox Sports North intended to unveil Minnesota Gophers announcer Anthony LaPanta (above) as the club’s lead play-by-play voice for the 2012-13 season. Reactions to LaPanta’s appointment have been described (optimistically) as “passionate”, while the far more forthcoming Nate W. of First Round Bust is quick to add, “the fact that Minnesota and FSN did not forsee disgust and blowback is more disappointing than anything”
Being a NHL announcer has to be one of the hardest jobs in sports. There’s no room for error in a game that is moving at breakneck speeds and they never get a break because unlike football, downtime does not exist. Even the best announcers in hockey – guys like Doc Emerick, Randy Hahn, Gord Miller – all have detractors. It’s almost impossible to be universally loved but the opposite is something that even Joe Buck couldn’t do. Minnesota fans are upset with this news and are channeling their inner “Network.”
With a franchise that has missed the postseason four years in a row and promises of better days ahead through both free agency and the prospect pipeline, getting Anthony LaPanta as the new announcer goes against everything said by the Wild this offseason. The former Gophers announcer (who had his issues doing that whether being overly excited, sounding unauthentic and fake or not having chemistry with guest color guys) is more of the same with Fox Sports North, if not more, and cronyism is the last thing fans want to see.
I’ll take Anthony LaPanta over Dan Terhaar any day of the week. He can identify players correctly and doesn’t get as lost in the game but that’s like going up from a one to a two star hotel. The issue with Terhaar – other than his voice cracking – was that he misidentified players throughout the season and was so biased in favor of the Wild that at times it was comical and took away from the game. LaPanta has the same qualities with being so over-the-top it’s comical and between being the easy choice, a company man and the Wild/Fox Sports North not trying to get the best of the best (NO fan will tell you that is the guy who looks to be hired) there’s a failure and the State of Hockey up in arms as the unanimous disapproval clearly shows.