When the Seattle Kraken traveled to Manitoba to take on the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night, the franchise made history, not for what took place on the ice, but for what occurred in the broadcasting booth.
Thursday’s local television broadcast was a historic one, as it featured the first all-black broadcasting team ever in the NHL. Everett Fitzhugh, who typically serves as the Kraken’s radio play-by-play announcer, filled that same role on TV as he joined Seattle’s TV analyst, J.T. Brown.
Fitzhugh made the move from radio to TV on Thursday, because Seattle’s regular television presence, John Forslund, was in Las Vegas to call the nightcap of Wednesday’s NHL on TNT broadcast. As a result, Fitzhugh and Brown had the opportunity to continue making history, which they are no strangers to doing.
The Seattle Kraken’s TV broadcast made history on Thursday.
When Fitzhugh was hired by the Kraken over a year ago, he became the first black broadcaster for an NHL team. For Brown, a former player in the NHL, he first made headlines in 2017 when he raised his fist during the playing of the United States national anthem.
Fellow NHL broadcaster Kevin Weekes, a black man who played for seven teams over his 11 years as an NHL goaltender, noted the impact that this broadcast can have when he spoke about how good it is for the game of hockey. He pointed out that as hockey begins to more accurately reflect the world we live in, the game will become more and more successful.
Weekes made history himself back in 2009 when he became the NHL’s first black TV analyst by joining “Hockey Night in Canada.” Currently, he works as an analyst for ESPN and NHL Network.
In recent years, the NHL’s broadcasting landscape has slowly become more diverse, as several other black broadcasters occupy a variety of roles. One of the most notable such people is Anson Carter, another former player who currently serves as part of the previously mentioned NHL on TNT program.
It’s crazy to me that in 2022, we are seeing two black broadcasters in the same TV booth for the first time. Hockey’s diversity issues have been well-documented recently, and while there is still a long way to go, it is encouraging to see Thursday’s broadcast take place.
The Hockey Diversity Alliance has been working hard to create an environment in which things like Thursday’s broadcast become a more common occurrence in hockey. The group has acted as the driving force behind change in the NHL since it was established in the summer of 2020.
The Kraken did not pick up a win on the ice in Winnipeg, but thanks to the first all-black NHL broadcast that Seattle assembled, everyone won on Thursday night.