Interview with Dale Arnold, NHL Broadcaster

Time for another installment of “Five Questions,” where we ask a hockey personality a bunch of questions that hopefully shed some light on the world of hockey behind the scenes. Sometimes we’ll ask more than five questions. Why call it “Five Questions” then, you ask? Well, it’s our blog. We can do what we want. How’s that?!

Today’s interview is with Dale Arnold. If he hasn’t already, Dale Arnold is fast becoming a broadcasting legend, particularly in New England. A two time Emmy-Award winner, he currently handles the 10am-2pm slot along with Michael Holley on Boston’s WEEI 850 AM, one of the largest and most influential sports talk radio stations in the U.S. But that’s not all. Dale handled television play-by-play for the Boston Bruins on NESN from 1995-2007 and he is also the only person in the history of Boston sports to actually do play-by-play for ALL five major sports teams in the Boston area – Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Revolution.  That’s a lot of work, people. Now, let’s get to the questions.

Talk radio is one of those professions that seems easy, but I sense it isn’t at all. What are the material differences between talk radio and calling play-by-play?

I have always joked that they had to pay me to do the day job (talk radio), but that I would do the night job (play-by-play) for free.  That has more to do with simple enjoyment than it does the ease or difficulty of either job.  I have always found that preparation is basically the same for both jobs — and preparation is easily the most important part of doing any job properly.  But once a game begins (in any sport) I’ve always found the play-by-play part to be very easy.  It becomes basically a case of “see-it-say-it.”  Talk radio requires much more deliberation and consideration, and circumspection before elocution.  In other words — on talk radio, engage brain before opening mouth, and in play-by-play, let ‘er rip!

You called Bruins games for NESN during a rather tenuous era in Bruins history. What single event was the high for you….and the low?

It’s hard to single out individual games, either good or bad.  I remember chaotic playoff matchups against the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens that were top-of-the-list for excitement.  The low spot might also be the most memorable, however — the night Ray Bourque played his last game ever for the Bruins, and I described him picking up the game puck at the final horn, knowing full well why he had done it, and why it meant so much to him.

Your daughter worked at one of our stores for a while. For you as a parent, I suspect that ranks right up there with her birth and graduations, right?

While it is true that my daughter, Alysha, worked for Pure Hockey, and would do so again, we actually had a family-wide connection with the company.  When Alysha was playing high school at Mt. St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Pure Hockey helped me design and order new game sweaters for the program.  We bought home sweaters her sophomore year, road sweaters her junior year and then team sweat suits her senior year.  Pure Hockey helped make sure that “The Mount” had the best-dressed girls high school hockey team in New England!

You are the only person in Boston sports history to do play-by-play for all five of the area’s major professional sports franchises. Did you ever imagine? When you were a kid, is this where you thought you would be as an adult?

When I was growing up in Maine my primary career goal was to replace Fred Lynn as centerfield for the Boston Red Sox.  When it became clear that was not going to happen, my goal changed to becoming a major league play-by-play announcer.  More than anything else, I wanted to someday be the play-by-play voice of the Boston Bruins.  I am so grateful that I was able to accomplish that goal, and spent 13 wonderful years calling those games.  I NEVER imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I would become the only person in Boston sports history to call at least one game for each of the five teams in town (Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Revolution).  Sports talk radio didn’t exist when I was growing up, so this current career path never entered my mind, but doing games for the five teams was more than I could have ever imagined.

What was the last thing that made you laugh really hard?

I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I know that the last time I laughed really hard was during a recent family picnic at something that my youngest brother, David, said.  He would be some much better at this talk radio thing than me because he’s the funniest person I know.  If anything he told me was clean enough I would steal it for the radio, and proudly claim it for my own, but unfortunately nearly everything that Dave says that makes me laugh has to stay between us.

Let’s reverse roles – why don’t you ask us a question?

My question for you is — do you really think the composite stick revolution is a good thing?  Old time hockey players (like Bobby Orr, to drop a name) have told me they still much prefer the wooden sticks to the new composite sticks, and like any fan, I hate to see a stick explode like it did to Dennis Wideman during the Flyers series.  Is composite really better and why?

After consultation with a few hockey experts here at Pure Hockey, here’s what we came up with: the main advantages for composite sticks are lighter weight, harder shot, consistency and durability (though Wideman probably disagreed with that last one as he was chasing Briere). Wood does break down faster, which means you’ll get a different, less effective shot off the blade in the waning days of a wood stick. That said, the price points are obviously in favor of wood, but it’s true about getting what you pay for.
Big thanks to Dale for putting up with us. Stay tuned for more, coming soon!

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