Steve Cangialosi is poise to succeed a legend. A veteran sportscaster in his own right, Cangialosi has been named the New Jersey Devils play-by-play announcer on MSG Plus, as we reported last week. Mike “Doc” Emrick retired after last season, ending a 21-year association with the team and the cable network.
“It’s a dream come true,” Cangialosi tells FishbowlNY. “The NHL, and watching the NHL, has been part of my life since I’m about seven years old.”
As for the Devils, Cangialosi showers praise on the organization.
“The Devils really are [first rate]. They have always done things the right way.” Cangialosi admits. “To be out in front [as] the voice of the franchise, that’s something that is tremendously special.”
Cangialosi has been a mainstay of MSG since 2000, but found his niche in 2006 when he joined the Devils broadcasts. He was a host, rink reporter, and fill-in play-by-play voice for Emrick. Despite being Emrick’s backup, Cangialosi didn’t expect to get the gig.
“It’s never something that you take for granted,” Cangialosi says. “I didn’t want this opportunity because they felt I was the guy-in-waiting… If I was going to be the guy, I just wanted to be the guy because everybody truly felt that going forward I was going to be the best choice in the long term.”
Ever humble, Cangialosi recognizes that there is other qualified talent within, and outside of, the NHL “who probably would have been a very good fit.”
With the promotion official, Cangialosi now has to step into the ice skates of Emrick. However, the best advice he got was not to think about it.
“When the job was offered to me, one of the concerns I had was not necessarily following Doc, but it was the knowledge that Chico Resch for more than a decade had one partner, and the partner he had was probably the best guy ever to do this.”
The new play-by-play man says it’s his responsibility to ensure that Resch maintains his enthusiasm.
“I don’t want it to waver once, where he looks to his left in the booth and he doesn’t see Doc Emrick,” Cangialosi admits.
Cangialosi is also cognizant of what the fans meant to his predecessor, loving the Devils and Emrick equally.
“The relationship that Doc had, not only with the players, but with the fans—that’s very special,” Cangialosi says. “There’s a bond with the fans that comes, not only with time, but with the number of special games you call too.”
Cangialosi got his sportscasting start at 1010 WINS in the 1980s, as the nighttime anchor, prior to Shadow taking over much of the station’s sports operation in the 1990s.
A lengthy stint at NY1 hosting an evening sports show followed, before his successful association with MSG began.
“My relationship with the network has always been wonderful because the network’s properties have always been so special to me,” Cangialosi says. “I work for the only network that brings the National Hockey League to the audience in New York. There’s nowhere else I would want to work.”
It’s a rare full-time hockey play-by-play hire at MSG Network, “because everybody who has preceded me has been so good,” Cangialosi says.
With the season opener approaching on October 8th at the Prudential Center, Cangialosi is ready to go.
“I am so excited to get going,” Cangialosi says. “It’s hard to put the opportunity into words.”
Even though the 2011-2012 season can’t start soon enough for the sportscaster, Cangialosi admits there will be some nerves when they finally drop the puck.
“It’ll probably be a little different…I think a nervous adrenaline, sometimes, is a very good thing,” Cangialosi says. “Let’s just hope it’s … the right amount on opening night.”