No conversation with Pete Weber is long enough. And that’s for many reasons. The man is a literal encyclopedia of stories from every sport imaginable; has talked to players you probably dreamed of meeting as a child; and has been everywhere, seen every sporting event you’ve wanted to attend, and probably covered it as well.
He’s a legend in his own right, but when I had the chance to talk to him yesterday, he was focused on another legend, his longtime broadcast partner, Terry Crisp. The occasion? After 23 seasons behind the microphone and in front of the camera, Crisp is retiring from covering the Nashville Predators at the end of this season. And this weekend, Crisp and Weber will reunite to broadcast their last two games together.
First up is the Saturday game against the Chicago Blackhawks where the two will make the radio call on 102.5 The Game. Sunday, the pair will switch to the television broadcast on Bally Sports South as the Predators take on the St. Louis Blues.
I asked Weber what he knew about Terry Crisp when he first found out that he would be working with him. “I knew he was going to be fiery without any question. And, because of my experience interviewing him when he was coaching Calgary and Tampa, I had an idea of that. The phrase he uses all the time is ‘bring the passion’. I thought I’d have no trouble with him bringing the passion, and that has proven to be the case.”
I thought it was interesting that the two had crossed paths before, especially considering that Crisp had made a lasting impression on Weber. I wondered if Crisp remembered Weber from their previous interactions. Pete was quick to tell me he didn’t. However, he added, “I always thought he was incredibly forthcoming and honest with his answers. That was very welcoming for me, to be certain that I didn’t have to worry about somebody who was building up a false front of some sort that would prevent a totally honest conversation. And, as you know by now, there’s no holding back with this man!”
Weber continued by explaining that this openness was the biggest surprise as their working relationship developed. Crisp was coming off of a coaching career that saw him win the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989 and serve as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first coach through the first five seasons of their existence. Crisp didn’t come from the broadcast world and, as we’ve all noticed, hockey coaches can sometimes play their cards pretty close to their chest. So it was a surprise to Weber that the fieriness and frankness came along with another trait, warmth, as the two became close friends very quickly.
Speaking of that coaching career, Weber recalled that while traveling in Calgary with Crisp in the early days (and even recent days), it was normal to hear shouts of “Hey, Crispy!” everywhere they went. He also reflected, “in Calgary I still don’t think he’s allowed to buy a drink or meal, and that’s going back to 1989!”
Of course there’s an opposite end to that spectrum, as Weber remembers walking down a busy Jasper Avenue in Edmonton alongside Crisp to grab a bite before a game and being told, “You might want to walk on the other side of the street, Bubba, that guy might not be a good shot!” Weber added, “He understood how he was viewed by the citizenry of Edmonton.”
The early days were something I was very curious about, as both Crisp and Weber were well-versed in hockey as they prepared to broadcast hockey to Nashville, Tennessee—a city that, for the most part, was very new to the sport. I asked about the unique role the duo played in “teaching” hockey to the city. “The early days, we really used to do that quite a bit. In a way, I was prepared for that role by my three years with the Los Angeles Kings. When I went to the Kings in 1978, they had been in the league for 11 years at that point. But by my experiences in Southern California at luncheons and breakfasts and so on, I could see how important it was to keep things basic so as not to try and talk over anybody’s heads.”
I used the personal story of my wife—a Nashville native who listened to the Predators games on the radio driving between college, work, and home—and how their broadcasts help her learn to understand the game she had never paid attention to until the Predators came to town. I told him how her story was not unique and pointed out that the majority of “new” hockey fans understand the game because he and Terry Crisp taught it to them. He responded, “I’m really humbled by hearing that. Terry and I have talked for the last few years and wondered how many children we’ve raised in the game. That’s kind of the legacy we’re thinking about this particular point for sure.”
The talk of legacy brought our discussion toward a closing point as the weight of this weekend’s finality became apparent. I asked Weber what he would miss the most about working alongside Terry Crisp. His response: “A great deal. You’ve already looked into the chemistry that we had almost from the very outset and the friendship that developed from there. It’s gonna be hard for me, but I know this for certain. We still talk after virtually every game, whether I’m on the road or not and go over our thoughts on what transpired (or didn’t) on the ice that particular night. We will continue to do that. And I’ll learn something from him. And I hope he learns something from me.”
The Predators will celebrate Terry Crisp at the game this Sunday against the Blues. Terry Crisp will join Pete Weber to call a game together for the last time. Tune in, because if you’re one of those children these two gentlemen have raised in hockey, it’s your last chance to hear them together. Their legacy will continue, though, because they raised us all right.