When the Seattle Kraken begin their inaugural season in 2021, Everett Fitzhugh, the first black team broadcaster in NHL history, will be behind the mic. In doing so, the Bowling Green alum will fulfill a dream he’s had since college. “Mom, this is it,” Fitzhugh recalls telling his mother after his first game as a student broadcaster, foreshadowing his later career in hockey announcing. “I'm going to be putting all my eggs in the hockey basket and we're going to the NHL.”
Fitzhugh had to pay his dues in the minors first, calling games for the USHL’s Youngtown Phantoms and Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL before finally getting an NHL opportunity with the Kraken. “As someone who's worked in hockey for over a decade and who has a long-held passion for broadcast hockey, to be named team broadcaster for a brand-new NHL franchise—particularly one with an organization as strong as the Kraken—is a dream come true,” said Fitzhugh. “Getting to the NHL has always been my goal. I look forward to serving as the voice for this incredible team and its fans as well as representing the Kraken organization throughout the greater Seattle community."
The NHL employs several black studio analysts—10-year veteran Anson Carter and former Hurricanes and Rangers net-minder Kevin Weekes are both frequent contributors to NBC and NHL Network’s hockey coverage—but Fitzhugh is the first African American to serve as a full-time play-by-play announcer. Fitzhugh, who grew up a Red Wings fan in Detroit, handled his first NHL assignment two years ago, calling a 2018 preseason game between the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins. Narrating a meaningless exhibition may seem like small potatoes, but it got Fitzhugh’s foot in the door.
"It gave me a chance not only to call an NHL game and just get a little bit of a taste of the NHL to keep me on the right track, it also gave me a chance to measure myself and see where I am,” the 31-year-old told William Douglas of NHL.com. “I walked away from that game—and I say this in the most humble way possible—I walked away from that game saying, 'I can do this. I can be an NHL broadcaster.'"
And when Seattle’s expansion franchise debuts in 2021, Fitzhugh will be.