Dale Arnold says retirement is near. But for one hockey team’s unexpected first-round playoff demise, the suddenness of when it happened…well, who could have foreseen such an abrupt end?
“I never thought my career would end sitting on the couch in my family room. It actually happened,” said Arnold. He spent his 24 seasons as part of his NESN’s Bruins broadcasting team. The record-setting team ended when he was bounced out of the playoffs in seven games by the Florida Panthers.
Arnold, who shared studio hosting duties with Sophia Jurkstowitz, was watching TV from his home in Maine last Sunday as the Panthers pushed the Bruins out in overtime 4-3. .
The 67-year-old announced in mid-April that this season would be his last. He admits he was confident he could extend it. However, the Bruins did not cooperate.
“Bittersweet,” he said. “We knew this whole season that this was the end. Part of me is ready to step back and relax a little. “What if they start skating again next October?”
Like other Boston sports fans, Arnold wondered why a season of such great achievements and promise had failed against the Panthers.
“It was a completely different situation than the regular season,” Arnold said. “They did some things from a personnel standpoint that embarrassed me. [Jakub] instead of lauco [Trent] Frederick, [Connor] Clifton instead [Matt] Guzelchik.
“It was clear we were seeing something going on [goaltender] Linus Urmark. I’m not sure what the hesitation was, but it certainly wasn’t the team I had seen all season. “
When something meaningful comes to an end, it’s natural to remember when it began. The versatile Arnold has had a diverse career in Boston sports media. He is the only broadcaster to call at least one game for the Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Revolution, and has been on the show since its inception in 1991 until he retires from the station in March 2021. WEEI Sports was his radio host.
He is best known for his work with Bruins and was a close runner-up for his time at WEEI. But really, it was an opportunity with the Patriots that brought him to the Boston market.
“I was on the phone at a New Jersey Devils game in 1988 when I got a call from WHDH’s Carey Pahijian. [radio]He said, “Curt Gowdy is leaving. He doesn’t want to do the Patriots anymore.
“So I was interviewed at the Bruins-Devils Stanley Cup playoffs in May 1988. ‘Listen, I haven’t played football in years. I don’t have a football tape.’ All I can do is send him a hockey tape, I sent him the Devils vs. Edmonton Oilers game, and Carey took it to Patriots general manager Patrick Sullivan, who said Wayne Gretzky had the Devils He approved my employment based on what I called him to say he broke it.
Arnold called the Patriots’ games from 1988 to the infamous 1-15 season of 1990.
“Basically, I did it to go to the market in Boston, and it all followed from there,” he said.
Arnold said it was his greatest pleasure to call up the Bruins’ game play-by-play on NESN from 1995-96 to 2006-07.
“Oh, easily the Bruins. I liked the Bruins play-by-play best,” he said, briefly lamenting giving up his play-by-play job after signing an extended contract with WEEI in 2007.
NESN wanted one commentary voice for home and road games. At the time, network managers called it “unifying the Bruins’ broadcast team.”
Jack Edwards, who called road games the past two seasons, became a full-time play-by-play voice and remains so today.
“I just signed a five-year deal with WEEI and would have had to drop it to play every game for the Bruins,” Arnold said. “So I didn’t feel honored to do it. And a few years later, ‘EEI fired me.’ [He was actually moved to weekends in 2011 before returning to a full-time weekday role in 2014.] So I think it shows that trying to do the right thing doesn’t always give the right result. “
Arnold became the studio host of NESN’s Bruins broadcast during the 2011-12 season after Kathryn Tappen left the NHL network. He said his friendship with Pederson and the recently joined Andrew Raycroft is what he misses the most.
“But honestly,” said Arnold. “There is nothing I dislike about this job.”