Well Wishes For Our #18
We’ve written before, perhaps a bit uncorked, about how much every other hockey call team on the teevee just plain stinks. Stinks, as in, if we could, “BOOOOOOO!!” I offer the jury exhibit A: Pierre McGuire. And exhibit B: Mike Milbury. And…oh, you get it. Boo.
Living here in DC, what with all the hustle and bustle and the gibbity and gabbity, it’s easy to forget just how good we got it. I mean, the Caps of late – just plain hellztotheyeah. The owner – and oh, believe me, there have been far worse owners and precious few you could call Wings Worthy – well, he gets it. [We're not just saying that to let everyone know that when the PuckBuddys go to a Caps playoff games we're 2-0, ahem Ted.]
And of course there’s that local economy based on those filthy feudal tidings from the hinterlands that just keeps us a-keepin’ on. (#thankyouCongresswhileIberateyou.)
We have much to be thankful for; about our town, and about our Caps. (See anything here.) Today, we wanted to raise a tribute to another treasure of living here: Craig Laughlin.
PuckBuddyCraig likes to say that it was Joe B and Locker (and Smokin’ Al and Alan May) that taught him everything he knows about hockey. PuckBuddyDoug would like to think it was him. Either way, we both over the years have been, and continue to be, huge fans. And I say that as a professional, urp, “award-winning” broadcaster.
The live on-air broadcast is an experience hard to describe…yet it’s still my favorite place. You may know you’re talking to 100, or 10,000, or 10,000,000 people at any moment, but what does that mean? You’re only actually in a tiny room, or a cramped arena booth, or just wandering about somewhere, hoping that every electrical signal from your mic and camera and IFB somehow flows them there electrons through the Gordian Knot of electrical cables to some something or other that, sending signals to something else somewhere not even here, miraculously makes with the sound and pictures.
That’s exactly how technical it all is.
Take it from me: you really can’t understand it at the moment while you’re doing it. You really can’t talk, engage, and impart information quickly to any audience while all that is zooming through your mind. Live is live.
Broadcasters, especially local TV news market types, have the rep of being vapid, empty vessels – like William Hurt in “Broadcast News” – that just mouth what others tell them. OK sure, there are some of those. Probably half those in TV are there because someone told them they’re pretty. About 30% are there because they really work hard and believe in what they do. Add to that another, maybe 18% because, actually, they’re really stupidly smart and good at what they do.
And then there’s the 2%; those broadcasters like Craig Laughlin. Not a soul watching can’t help but feel he’s talking to them, imparting his folksy wisdom to a select audience of one. And ‘folksy’? Yeah, with his “do-si-do’s” and “mustard on that ticky-tack” and his dipsy-do, bang-bang, dandy fisticuff argot, he might seem like just another doughnut-muncher from Toronto, except he isn’t. Locker is uniquely gifted as a color commentator: he knows the game, he knows the artifice of the TVs, he knows what it is to have producers shouting in his ear “END! END! THROW NOW!” and such, and yet he never betrays any of that.
It’s a great thing to be a gifted hockey player. I can only look on that with envy, never having been one.
It’s also a great thing to be a gifted broadcaster. Here again I feel better suited to looking on with envy.
Craig Laughlin went in this week for hip replacement surgery. He told us about it last year at Caps Con when PuckBuddyCraig mentioned that he had actually had complete hip replacement just the prior year.
There were no cameras on at that moment, but Craig Laughlin was every bit the Locker we see on air when he responded. Craig and Craig chatted for a minute, more, about the pain, the surgery, the risks and the real opportunities for amazing recovery. “I love you guys!” was his parting comment.
Craig Laughlin, we know you will have the speediest of recoveries. We know you will be better for having this procedure. We know you will be on your feet faster than you know and back in the rough and tumble in no time.
And we know we will continue to learn from you, while shouting at the TV, over many years to come.
Get well soon, Locker. You’ve got a lot of people depending on you.