The Seattle Kraken announced the hiring of Everett Fitzhugh on Friday, making the 31-year-old the first Black team broadcaster in the NHL.
The Kraken also named two more hires, including Lamont Buford, who is Black, as vice president of gameday presentation. The hirings come at a time when diversity is beginning to be discussed and slowly addressed in hockey. The Seattle expansion team has made the issue a priority as it builds its front office staff before play in 2021-22.
Who is Kraken’s Everett Fitzhugh?
Fitzhugh is the only Black play-by-play announcer at any professional level of North American hockey. He comes to the Kraken after doing radio play-by-play for the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, the Buffalo Sabres affiliate, for the past five years.
Fitzhugh was also the Cyclones’ director of media relations and was a member of the crew for the 2018 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic on NHL Network. And in 2018, he was invited to do play-by-play for a Washington Capitals preseason game against the Boston Bruins.
Fitzhugh grew up a Detroit Red Wings fan and began broadcasting while attending Bowling Green State University. He worked for the USHL for a short time before joining the Cyclones.
Fitzhugh told The Athletic’s Ryan Clark last winter he hoped to be a team play-by-play broadcaster by the age of 40. It came sooner than expected. Now he’s reading potential expansion drafts and practicing goal calls with names the Kraken might take, per Clark. He recognizes the moment.
“I want to be the best, period,” Fitzhugh said. “I know what I want to accomplish. I think the fact that this is a defining moment to be the first Black team broadcaster is something that is really cool and really special. And it has not really fully hit me yet.”
Kraken make historic broadcast hire
The franchise still does not have set broadcast rights deals but decided to hire Fitzhugh now anyway.
“He's going to bring a tremendous energy and talent to our broadcast and content team, and we can't wait for our fans to get to know him,” Kraken CEO and team president Tod Leiweke said, via the NHL.
John Walton, the radio voice of the Capitals and their director of broadcasting, invited Fitzhugh to call the preseason game two years ago. He also is excited for the future.
“He wanted to break through the glass ceiling — that's a daunting thing,” Walton said, via the NHL. “For an opportunity like Seattle with a market that is so ready for the NHL, to be able to be part of that broadcast team, I'm so excited for him I can barely put it in words.”
Per The Athletic, he could become the play-by-play radio announcer or serve in another broadcast role. He’ll also be a face on social media and their digital platform, Leiweke said.
Trio of Kraken’s hires are ‘memory makers’
The Kraken announced three hires on Friday. Buford worked as the senior director of game presentation role with the Arizona Coyotes. Before that he was with the St. Louis Blues.
Johnny Greco was named the team’s senior vice president of live entertainment and game presentation. He was in charge of game presentation for the Las Vegas Knights, the most recent expansion team before the Kraken came along.
The hires on Friday add to the Kraken’s focus and success on diversity. The team said in January that Kraken stated that 54 percent of their executive vice presidents were women.
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