Tom Calhoun was recently honored for his 20 years of excellent work behind the PA microphone of the St. Louis Blues.
LGB contaced Mr. Calhoun to congratulate him on this achievement. He was kind enough to agree to do an interview and discuss a few things.
We didn't want to ask him the "same old" questions everyone else was asking...so we threw in few that we hoped would be rather unique.
Anyway, here is our interview.
LGB: Has any player's name ever given you trouble?
Calhoun: I canâ€™t think of an incident like that. There were a few times when guys came over to the penalty box and asked me to pronounce their name a bit differently, but I wouldnâ€™t call that giving me trouble. Even my famous Bob Probert incident where I tried to stop him from going into the stands during a brawl was a very lighthearted exchange. He wasnâ€™t happy with me grabbing him by the trunksâ€¦but we both laughed about it afterward.
LGB Have any players (Blues or not) given you grief for how you pronounced their name?
Calhoun: Not reallyâ€¦I think one of the Niedermayer brothers, not sure which, told me that the name was prounced Needer-meyerâ€¦not mayerâ€¦.but it was very politetly handled.
LGB: What is the most memorable call you have ever made at a Blues game?
Calhoun: I believe the one that stands out the most to me is the introduction of Wayne Gretzky as the starting center at his first home game as a member of the Blues. The place was going nuts..and Iâ€™m sure few people could hear meâ€¦but it was a very memorable moment and one of the few that I actually have a recording of.
LGB: Some of the members of letsgoblues.com have noticed that you seem to get phone calls while you are broadcasting on the PA system. Who is calling you?
Calhoun: Occasionally, the guys in the press box need to speak with me about some issue. There is a special phone line set up for them to do that. However, over the past few years, that practice has been very infrequent because they can also get on a clear-com headset in the press box and speak to me that way. I think they will probably eliminate the phone at some point soon due to non-use.
LGB: A lot of people really like story between you and Bob Probert. Are there any other run-ins you have had with non-Blues players on or off the ice?
Calhoun: The only one I can think of is one time at the old Arena I was hit in the head with a water bottle thrown by Doug Gilmour which was actually intended for Lee Norwood when he played for Detroit. They had been in a bit of a scrap on the ice and when they go into the penalty box they kept jawing at one another until Gilmour tossed the bottle. It glanced off my head for which Doug apologized later.
LGB: Have you ever been hit by a puck? Any cuts or bruises?
Calhoun: There have been a number of close calls, but only once have I been struck by a puck. That happened at the Arena in the late 80â€™s. Someone popped the puck up in the air and it looped over the glass and caught me on the back of the noggin. Just a little swelling and it was gone in a few days.
LGB: How has the equipment you use/used changed over the years?
Calhoun: The major change came when we moved into the Kiel Centerâ€¦now Scottrade. When we made that move, we had to incorporate video into the game night presentation because of the large video display. At that point I was required to wear a clear-com headset and take cues from the gamenight director. Before that the only coordination was between myself and the organist at the Arena. I would push a button that signaled the organist that I had an announcement to make so he wouldnâ€™t play at the same time. Other than that, the microphone set up is essentially the same.
LGB: Any interesting equipment malfunctions?
Calhoun: There have been a few times when the microphone failed, but usually they are able to switch out the bad one for a new one in short order.
LGB: What is the most interesting thing you have ever heard a fan yell during a game?
Calhoun: Most of the ones I remember, you wouldnâ€™t want to print.
LGB: What is the most interesting thing you have ever heard a player say during a game?
Calhoun: I think that would have to be the only time I heard one player threaten to kill another. During a pre-season game several years back, Pierre Turgeon accidentally high-sticked Chris Chelios. Chelios didnâ€™t think it was so accidental though and, after both players were sent to the box with penalties on the play, Chelios was so mad that he threatened to find Turgeon after the game and kill him. He calmed down pretty quickly though. Turgeon leaned over to a couple of us in the penalty box area and dead-panned, â€œI think heâ€™s a little upset.â€ That was pretty funny.
LGB: What is your opinion of Mike Keenan?
Calhoun: I, like a lot of people, think Mr. Kennan had an obsession with the power of his job and wasnâ€™t nearly as good at it as he thought. He seemed to have a â€œmy way or the highwayâ€ mentality that, in the long run, didnâ€™t do the St. Louis Blues much good. I donâ€™t wish him any ill, but I just wish he hadnâ€™t come through town.
LGB: If Tkachuk ever scored a hat trick, would you have to stop on your way home for some throat spray?
Calhoun: Probably so. Doing the announcement on Tkachuk scoring plays has become sort of a signature call for me, and I enjoy bringing that bit of fun to the fans. But, it does take a little toll on the old pipes.
LGB: If you could travel with the Blues to any NHL city, which one would it be and why?
Calhoun: Hmmmâ€¦I guess Iâ€™d like to visit Vancouver because Iâ€™ve never been there and continuously hear how beautiful a city it is.
LGB: You do a lot of voice work besides your work for the St. Louis Blues. What has been the best non-hockey voice gig you have ever done?
Calhoun: I think that would have to be any that provide long-term income. So that would be one that I continue to do now. I have been the voice of Argosy Casino for the past few years. My friend Bob Kochan has an ad agency (Kochan and Company) that handles all of Argosyâ€™s advertising in this market. I have been the announcer for their radio spots and am grateful for that association.
LGB: What is your favorite all-time style of Blues jersey?
Calhoun: I think the current home jersey is the best theyâ€™ve had. Jim Woodcock worked long and hard in his position as Director of Marketing and Communications to find a way to eliminate the old â€œclown suitâ€ that featured the diagonal red at the bottomâ€¦and come up with the design for, and implement, the current sweater. He did a great job.
LGB: Boxers or briefs?
Calhoun: Hmmmâ€¦thatâ€™s for my wife to know. But, thanks for asking.
LGB: Can you go another 20 years?
Calhoun: Iâ€™d sure like to think Iâ€™ll be that healthyâ€¦and the Blues would want me to. Given both of those elements, I will try.
LGB: Should the Blues be buyers or sellers at the deadline?
Calhoun: Speaking strictly as a fanâ€¦ as much as Iâ€™ve enjoyed the resurgence of the team since Andy Murray came aboard, I think we would be better off acquiring some draft picks and prospects at the deadline. I have a hard time seeing us being a Cup contender this year, even if we manage to squeak into the playoffs. So, if we can get some real value in return, Iâ€™d have to let some of our free-agents-to-be play out the season somewhere else. JD and Larry will make that decision though, and Iâ€™m confident theyâ€™ll make the right call.
If you'd like to read more about what Mr. Calhoun has to say, he has his own blog:
He is also President of Calhoun Advertising
You can also check out Tom Calhoun Studios
to hear some other voice work he has done. (maybe we can take up a collection and have him do a "Get ready to MAKE SOME NOISE at Let's Go Blues.com!"
Anyway, thanks to Tom Calhoun for being a good sport and doing this interview. And congratulations once again for 20 great years with the Blues. Our in-game experience is better because he was/is behind the mic.