Dave Strader has worked numerous NHL outdoor games, whether it has been for NBC Sports or NHL International.
But even he was amazed at what the league pulled off Jan. 26 in a place where the thought of playing an outdoor hockey game seemed outlandish.
Strader was the play-by-play voice for NBCSN’s coverage of the Anaheim Ducks’ 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium.
“It was unbelievable,” Strader said. “I did the outdoor game in Calgary [in 2011], I filled in for Doc [Mike Emrick] at the Winter Classic in Wrigley Field [in 2009], I did the game at Fenway Park [Philadelphia vs. Boston in 2010] for NHL Radio and I did the [last month’s Toronto-Detroit] game at Ann Arbor [Mich.] for NHL International. All the venues have their own characteristics.
“Visually, nothing compared to what it looked like when you walked into Dodger Stadium, with all the colors and the green grass instead of the snow, the beach volleyball, the stage for KISS, the in-line skating rink that had its own blue color and the [ice] rink itself. The weather was perfect.”
Strader called the game from the Vin Scully broadcast booth, which was a thrill for him. But there were some issues.
“It was the most challenging game to call, by far, that I’ve ever done,” Strader said. “It was a shallow angle that I virtually called the game off of our HD program monitor. That was the only way I could identify players somewhat in a timely fashion.
“Early in the game, when it was 2-0, there was a breakaway for L.A., and I wasn’t exactly sure who it was because the turnover happened and the player got behind the defense. From that distance, I couldn’t be certain that it was [the Kings’ Anze] Kopitar, and I didn’t want to call the wrong name. So you just let the play happen. And then you realize who it is, and you make the call that way.”