Becoming the Vancouver Canucks' colour commentator has been a long time coming for Ray Ferraro.
Ferraro was born in Trail, B.C., and grew up watching the Canucks. More than that, he's lived in Vancouver for years. Calling Canucks games in his own backyard has understandably been of interest to him.
In fact, Ferraro first asked to be the Canucks' next television analyst all the way back in 2008 — 15 years ago. He shared the story on the Bob McCown Podcast with John Shannon and Daren Millard on Wednesday.
"I started at Sportsnet when I retired in October of 2002," said Ferraro. "Craig Simpson was leaving broadcasting, going go to coach with the Oilers at the time, he was one of the assistant coaches. So, the opportunity opened up and I got recommended to go audition — I didn't really know what that was about, I'd not done any games before. I auditioned, I got the job, so for the next five years, I worked in Edmonton, but I lived in Vancouver.
"My contract was coming up and I said to Sportsnet at the time, completely naive of much in the broadcast world, 'Hey look, I don't really want to keep flying to Edmonton to do games and fly back home. When John Garrett retires, I want to be the Vancouver Canucks analyst.' The brass at the time said, 'No, we can't guarantee that.' That was in 2008."
It's no wonder that Sportsnet couldn't make any guarantees at the time. In 2008, Garrett was a long way from retiring. He didn't step back from the Canucks' regional broadcasts until just this past season and he's expected to still call some national games this year.
"I didn't realize Cheech was gonna work another 20 years!" added Ferraro. "Cheech looked old in 1995!"
With no guarantees from Sportsnet, Ferraro left when his contract expired, signing first with TSN, frequently broadcasting Toronto Maple Leafs games. He then signed with ESPN and ABC as lead colour commentator for their national broadcasts.
When Sportsnet finally called saying the Canucks job was open, Ferraro jumped at the chance.
"I got a call asking if I'd be interested in this. I mean, I've been watching Canucks games since 1970," said Ferraro. "The opportunity...to do games at home is something I've never had before. I didn't want to travel anymore, that's why I left doing the TSN games in Toronto. Each game I did was three days. I had to get there, do the game, and come home. Now, it's three hours and the difference is immeasurable. I literally get in the car, drive 15 minutes and I'm at the rink."
Ferraro said that he'll likely only be doing 20 Canucks games this season due to "contractual limitations" this year because of his previous work with TSN. That likely means a non-compete clause in his contract with TSN that ensures he can't work too much for a rival network within a certain period of time.
While Ferraro became known for calling games between the benches, he won't be in that spot in Vancouver.
"No, I'm not, I'm upstairs," said Ferraro. "I love it down there, I think it's the best place to broadcast the game from...I would prefer to be downstairs, it's just not going to work, at least this year, anyway."
Ferraro also addressed the potential conflict of interest he would have as a broadcaster married to an assistant manager of the team he's covering. Understandably, he doesn't think it's an issue.
"Quite frankly, it really pisses me off," said Ferraro. "My job is not to dissect every management move or to dissect everything that's going on from a critical eye. My job is to broadcast the games. Cheech was beloved here in Vancouver, right? He had an amazing run and during the game, the last time he critiqued management was 19-never. Because that's not what you do. That's not what the broadcast is about. The broadcast is about the game and the players and the community of the team."