Since the lockout ended, the National Hockey League has been missing something.
Yes, obstruction has vanished from the game and financial liberalism is gone, but something far more noticeable has disappeared: Gary Thorne.
For years, Thorne was the voice of hockey in the United States. His play by play electrified the NHL, even in the flailing obstruction years. The emotion he delivered to television sets across the country has gone unmatched.
When the NHL left ESPN for the Outdoor Life Network (now Versus), Thorne stayed behind and called football, baseball and the occasional college hockey game. He was recently named named the lead play-by-play for ESPN Radio's Major League Baseball Coverage.
It was refreshing to hear Thorne call all of the Frozen Four games. Despite two of the three games being slow paced, Thorne was able to make the tournament exciting.His passion for sports shows in every event he calls and it soothes viewers from the seemingly dry Versus announcers.
His repertoire of classic calls includes his momentous "Detroit wins!" after Steve Yzerman's series clinching goal against St. Louis in Game 7 of the 1996 Conference Semifinals.
His most recent hockey gem came in Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals when Paul Kariya, then a Mighty Duck of Anaheim, was knocked out by an open ice hit from New Jersey Devil Scott Stevens. After being helped off the ice, Kariya returned to blast a slapshot by Devil's goaltender Martin Brodeur, prompting Thorne to proclaim "off the floor and on the scoreboard," a call that will be forever remembered by the handful of viewers watching the ABC telecast that night.
Although he makes an appearance on EA Sports' NHL series, American hockey misses his voice on regular telecasts. Thorne has called some of this generation's finest hockey moments. The NHL needs his gripping voice back.
Thorne makes Little League Baseball exciting. If he can turn fans on to preteens' success and follies, he can get America back into hockey.