Dave Strader hasn't exactly had time to do a publicity tour since being named the Dallas Stars new play-by-play announcer.
The television veteran and former NBCSN national announcer wasn't even in Dallas when the hiring was announced, flying back and forth between Tampa Bay and Chicago as part of the crew that was calling the Stanley Cup Final for the NHL's international broadcast.
"The response from all the media people in attendance when the news came out, the respect that the Dallas Stars hockey organization and television organization has around the league, not just in the US but in Canada, was amazing," Strader told the Musers when he called in for an interview last week. "So the outpouring of support was terrific, and I'm very much looking forward to working with everyone down there."
Strader was on a pair of radio shows on the Ticket that week, his first interviews since being named as the replacement for Ralph Strangis. He started with a weekend appearance on Stars Sunday with Owen Newkirk and guest host Josh Bogorad and followed that up later in the week by chatting with the Musers.
He was listed as one of three finalists for the position, along with former ESPN hockey announcer and current baseball PBP man Gary Thorne and Carolina Hurricanes broadcaster John Forslund. All three are highly respected veterans of the business, but Strader has a history with several of the Stars executives that dates back well over 30 years.
Strader got his start in the business calling minor-league games for the Adirondack Red Wings, which were purchased by the Detroit Red Wings in the early 1980s.
"Jim Lites, who was an executive with the Red Wings at the time, part of his responsibility was overseeing the Adirondack team," Strader told Stars Sunday. "And I remember having a conversation with him where he told me, 'Be patient; we think there's going to be an opportunity for you if not in a year maybe in two years.' And what's really ironic about it is they decided to stop simulcasting, and they only did about 15-18 TV games back in those days. There was no cable package yet. There was no Fox Sports Detroit or anything like that. So I got my opportunity to come to Detroit in 1985 because they wanted to establish a separate TV team...
"So I went to Detroit to work with Mickey (Redmond) that year, and we only broadcast I think 15 games, thankfully, because it was the worst season in Red Wings history. I forget what it was, I think 80 game season and they had 40 points and the average score of our TV games was 9-3 against the Red Wings."
He later joked with the Musers that he got his first television job because the Red Wings went away from the simulcast system and was now coming to one of two teams left in the NHL (along with the Buffalo Sabres) that still simulcasts.
"It's a great challenge to come into a market like that that's had a great voice like Ralph Strangis for so many years," Strader said on Stars Sunday. "But the opportunity to work with Razor, who I've worked with for I don't know 12-15 games at the network level over the course of, I don't know, I guess it's like the last 15 years. We first worked together at ESPN. There's familiarity there."
Strader was very complimentary of his new color man Daryl Reaugh, well beyond his ability to work through fog-related technical difficulties.
"You know, we have a lot of very talented guys who do that job in our business, but nobody else does it with the unique sense of humor, the use of language, incredible insights," Strader told the Musers. "I'm ready for anything that Razor happens to throw my way. I know going in there he's the star of the show, and I certainly hope it continues to be that way."
Strader has a history with Razor away from the booth as well that dates back nearly 20 years. He told the Musers a story about covering the Conference Finals with Reaugh back in 1997 when he was working for ESPN. During some of the downtime, he invited both Reaugh and fellow analyst Darren Pang to his house in Troy, Mich., for a game of street hockey with his then-school-aged kids.
Like any contest involving former professional athletes, it quickly worked its way up in intensity.
"We had the two of them out in the street hockey game with all the kids, and it got very competitive with Razor and Panger, no surprise," Strader said. "Razor was shooting NHL-caliber slap shots with this hard orange ball at my nine-year-old twins and their friends. So one of the first things (after the Stars job was announced), I got a text from one of my boys saying, 'Are we going to have a rematch of that street hockey game from years gone by?' And I said, 'I'm sure we can arrange that.'"
The Musers left Strader with three rules for happiness on the Stars broadcast:
- Don't look him in the eye.
- Laugh, but don't overlaugh, at his jokes
- Don't contradict him on the air
Pretty good rules for any prospective Stars broadcaster, I'd say.