A long-time NHL voice will be back in the national booth these playoffs despite his ongoing battle with cancer. That would be Dave Strader, who’s spent 37 years covering hockey (32 at the NHL level), spent decades calling national games for ESPN, ABC, Fox and Versus/NBCSN, and called the Stanley Cup Finals for the NHL’s international feed from 1997-2015. He also has called hockey at three Olympics for NBC.
Last June, Strader (currently the TV voice of the Dallas Stars) announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer, and he provided an update in September that there was no cure for the rare and aggressive form of bile duct cancer he has, but there are treatments. He missed most of this year while undergoing treatment, but he was able to work some games this season in between treatment sessions, including a February homestand and a national game later in February. He tweeted Monday that he’ll be calling the first two games of the Washington Capitals – Toronto Maple Leafs series for NBC Thursday and Saturday:
Fortunate to be feeling strong enough to work. So thanks @NHLonNBCSports for another chance to call playoff hockey! I'll be in Wsh Thu/Sat!
— Dave Strader (@TheVoiceDS) April 10, 2017
It’s great to see Strader doing well enough to call some more games, and it’s excellent to see him back on the national scene. Interestingly enough, even local fans in Washington will be able to catch Strader (who will be calling those games with analyst Brian Boucher on the national broadcast if they so choose; for the first time since NBC gained NHL rights in 2005-06, the national feed of first-round games won’t be blacked out in most markets where the game is also shown on regional sports networks. The only remaining local first-round blackouts will be in Boston and Pittsburgh; fans in other markets will have their choice of the national or regional feed, and NBC’s streaming feeds will be accessible in the non-blacked-out markets as well.
Strader is also getting a marquee matchup here. The Capitals won their second-straight Presidents’ Trophy (best regular-season record) this year, putting up 120 points, and they have one of the league’s most exciting offensive players in Alex Ovechkin and one of the top goaltenders in Braden Holtby. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs have Auston Matthews, the first-overall pick last year who finished tied for second in the NHL with 40 goals this season, and they have a further pair of exciting rookies in William Nylander and Mitch Marner.
That’s a pretty good setup to call, and it’s tremendous that Strader will be the one doing it for at least the first two games. (NBC has only announced broadcast pairings for games one and two of the playoffs so far.) Here’s wishing him all the best as he calls these games and continues his battle with cancer.
Game one of Washington-Toronto airs on USA Network Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern. Game two airs on NBCSN Saturday at 7 p.m. Eastern. Both games, and the rest of the NHL playoff action, can be streamed on the NBC Sports app. Fans wishing to send Strader notes of support can also do so by tweeting him @TheVoiceDS or e-mailing WellWishesForStrader@dallasstars.com.