When the Coyotes return to the ice this season, they will not only be playing a new brand of hockey, they’ll also have new color analysts in the TV and radio booths.
A source close to the team confirmed Friday that Charlie Simmer, who has been a broadcaster with the franchise since it moved to the Valley in 1996, has decided to move on and pursue other opportunities.
Simmer was the TV analyst the past eight seasons and also was heard on the radio the past two seasons when the Coyotes simulcast broadcasts. Simmer is in Europe on vacation and was unavailable for comment.
This season, Phoenix will go back to having separate broadcast teams.
Longtime ESPN analyst Darren Pang is the likely choice to replace Simmer on the TV side. A source familiar with the negotiations said it’s a done deal.
Pang wouldn’t go that far, but said during a phone interview, "You’re hot on an accurate trail."
The contract is reportedly for three years.
Pang, a former NHL goalie, became available in May when ESPN declined to pick up a $60 million option it held for the 2005-06 season, leaving Pang without a network.
Pang brings accomplished credentials to the Coyotes, including working for ESPN since 1993. He is a longtime friend of managing partner Wayne Gretzky and is often referred to as "the best in the business."
As for the team’s other broadcasters, Curt Keilback will continue to provide play-by-play on TV, and it has been reported that Bob Heethuis will do the same job on radio, although the Coyotes have not confirmed that. The radio analyst job remains open.
A Coyotes official said announcements regarding broadcasters won’t be made for at least a couple of weeks.
LOOSE PUCK: Gretzky’s decision on whether he will coach this year could be announced as early as Monday. Phoenix has tentatively scheduled a press conference for that day. An announcement on ticket prices could also come at that time.