With an impressive new jumbotron and hanging LED screens, Washington Capitals games were already going to have a different feel this season. Another change is that the Capitals’ longtime PA announcer, Wes Johnson, along with PA assistant Byron Hudtloff have been relocated from their perch at ice level to a booth at the top of Capital One Arena.
The new PA room is near media row on the sixth floor. Wes, a successful voice actor who has worked in radio, TV, film, and big-time video games, is celebrating his 20th season as PA announcer for the team.
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It’s not the view I had for 19 years, but for those who never knew I was in the penalty box to begin with, it won’t make much of a difference. From down low, or up high, Red WILL be Rocked, and FURY will most definitely be UNLEASHED this season. #20YearsOfFURY
A post shared by Wes Johnson (@wesjohnson) on
“It’s not the view I had for 19 years, but for those who never knew I was in the penalty box to begin with, it won’t make much of a difference,” Wes joked on Instagram. “From down low, or up high, Red WILL be Rocked, and FURY will most definitely be UNLEASHED this season. #20YearsOfFURY”
In a comment replying to disappointed followers, Wes explained that the move was for an important reason. “This happened because the NHL is testing puck tracking technology in DC. My space in the box is now being used for equipment, an extra NHL guy, and a freezer box full of chipped pucks. This technology and my new view are both here to stay.”
— Byron J. Hudtloff (@ByronHudtloff) September 19, 2019
He later gave more context in an interview with DC101’s Elliot In The Morning late last week. Elliot Segal, the morning show’s longtime host, wanted to know the full story because he has season tickets right beside the penalty box where Wes used to work every game. Elliot called Wes out of the blue.
“I think that DC is one of the four teams that are testing it,” Wes said. “So they needed a place for us to go. Because of the equipment moving me out, I’m upstairs and I’m not going to be able to make faces at you (Elliot) all game.
“It’s basically a league thing,” he added. “Who knows what’s going to happen with all of the other teams. I’m on a private group with all of the other PAs and they found out what’s happening. They’re all like, ‘What’s going on? Is that happening here?'”
ESPN recently reported that the NHL replaced their partner in player and puck tracking, Jogmo World Corp., delaying the rollout of the highly-anticipated data collection system until the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. During All-Star Weekend last winter, the league said the technology would be ready for the start of the 2019-20 season.
Beyond NBC Sports Washington’s Joe Beninati, there’s perhaps no voice that is as synonymous with the Capitals during the Ovechkin Era than Wes’s.
The 58-year-old’s throaty goal calls are emulated by children (and adults alike) and his live Unleash The Fury packages are strategically employed during games to give the Caps momentum for a comeback or hold onto a win.
In a lot of ways, Johnson is the heart and soul of the team from the sidelines.
GAME 7 GAMEFACE!!! w/ #ThePrideOfDC @bobinarlington & @noazark151, @ByronHudtloff & #BoeingHero Commander MSgt Chief Scott Nagle! #ALLCAPS #StanleyCupPlayoffs2019 #SuperSerious pic.twitter.com/3ovGw3P1rn
— Wes Johnson (@WesJohnsonVoice) April 24, 2019
Now he will be doing his calls from a booth away from everyone.
“To be honest with you, I loved being in [the penalty box],” Wes said. “It’s a very different game experience from way up there at the top of the rafters to where I was in the penalty box. Still exciting. I’m still rocking the red. I’m still Unleashing The Fury, but it takes some getting used to the game flow from behind the glass.”
Headline photo: @WesJohnson
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