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Mike Lange: Scratching Backs With Hacksaws Since 1974

Nick DeWitt@@nickdewitt11Analyst IApril 29, 2009

PITTSBURGH - MAY 10:  Pittsburgh Penguins broadcaster Mike Lange watches the off day skate during the NHL Eastern Conference Playoffs at the Mellon Arena May 10, 2008 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

"Scratch my back with a hacksaw!"

"He beat him like a rented mule!"

"Grab a phone and call Arnold Slick from Turtle Crick!"

Chances are, if you've tuned into a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game since 1974, you've heard one of those now-immortalized sayings.

They come from the raspy, shouting voice of Mike Lange, the Penguin's play-by-play voice since he joined the organization in 1974.

Lange has brought to Pittsburgh hockey what Myron Cope brought to Pittsburgh Steelers football; a unique voice and personality that is identifiable beyond the game broadcasts themselves.  In short, they're both men who transcend their particular jobs.

Whenever Myron Cope was on the radio, most fans would turn down the network television broadcasters to hear Myron's version of events.

Whenever Mike Lange was on television, and now on the radio, he was the voice fans wanted to hear most.

With the departure of Cope, Lange is now Pittsburgh's most readily identifiable voice in sports, and perhaps in radio.  His oddball phrases accompanying Penguins goals have even found their way into popular culture.

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Lange never disappoints, always delivering some memorable, exciting phrases.  He doesn't just call a game, he makes fans part of it by drumming up excitement and emotion with each word.

A perfect example is a story that just materialised recently as I was driving home during Game Six of the first round playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers, holding a 3-2 lead in the second period, allowed Sidney Crosby to possess the puck in their zone.  As he skated, carried the puck to the net, and shot, Lange's voice ranged higher and higher and the words spilled over the radio waves faster and faster until Lange shouted:

"HEEEEE SHOOTS AND SCORES!!!"

I instantly realized I needed to stop celebrating along with Lange, who had taken me from dejected to elated in four short words, and get the car back on the road.

A simple trip through some old Penguins games, lovingly preserved on DVD in a 10 disc collection, gives the viewer a sense of just how well Lange does his job.

Watching the old games, knowing the outcome, one can't help but still be excited by his four-word exultation when the Penguins score or one of his many artful and, by Lange's account, totally accidental turns of phrase.

Lange doesn't seem to be going anywhere.  Hopefully he will continue to thrill Pittsburgh fans for years to come.  With Myron Cope gone, he's the voice on the radio fans turn to when network broadcasters fail to excite the masses.

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