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Lightning sizes up AHL broadcaster

By JOHN COTEY
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 23, 2002

The Lightning is still a few weeks from hiring a replacement for radio play-by-play man John Ahlers, but there may be an early favorite.

Dave Mishkin, voice of the AHL's Hershey Bears, is scheduled to interview Monday, Lightning vice president of public relations Bill Wickett confirmed Thursday.

Mishkin, 33, has ties to the organization through general manager Jay Feaster, who held the same position with Hershey nine years before joining Tampa Bay and hired Mishkin in 1994.

"We had a very good relationship," Mishkin said. "I thought he was a tremendous guy to work for. I was very happy that he got the opportunity to go to the NHL."

Feaster declined comment, but Wickett said Mishkin was "a leading candidate." Wickett also said the team has been contacted by current NHL announcers.

Mishkin, a '91 Yale graduate, is well-known in AHL ranks. Though hired to do radio, he has taken on multiple duties in eight years, including manager of hockey operations and media relations director.

Ahlers, who was hired last week to call games for the Mighty Ducks after four years in Tampa, also was chosen from a minor-league team with ties to Lightning/Palace Sports & Entertainment management when he was promoted from the Detroit Vipers.

"Like any broadcaster in the AHL, you have dreams of getting to the NHL," Mishkin said. "I'm no different. I don't know if they've indicated to me I'm a strong candidate, but we'll see what happens."

SOAPBOX CITY: Cheers for NBC's Hannah Storm, a voice of reason amid the wave of sanctimonious knee-jerk reactions to the latest sports "scandal" -- CBS reporter Jill Arrington posing for so-called provocative pictures in a men's magazine.

On ESPN's Sports Reporters II, Storm said, "I really don't feel what she did was that egregious. I actually called Jill Arrington, which nobody else bothered to. ... I just found it interesting that she has turned down many, many opportunities to do a lot of things, including NBC trying to get her to be a sideline reporter for the XFL (and) posing for Playboy when she won the poll last year."

Arrington's crime is being attractive and posing for photos.

Her penalty is dismissal as a journalist by the likes of former ESPN anchor Robin Roberts, who said in a USA Today article last week we should use Melissa Stark as an example of a legitimate journalist, not Arrington.

Even if it was Stark who replaced Lesley Visser on Monday Night Football because Stark was, dare I say it, younger and better looking.

Arrington is more than a pretty face, and those who attempt to listen before flipping open a magazine will see that. She does her job -- "Coach, what will you do different in the second half?" -- as well as the Starks of the world.

Maybe Roberts would prefer an expert, someone who played the game, who fans will listen to rather than look at.

Like Eric Dickerson, who did more damage to the image of the sideline reporter as journalist than 100 photos of Arrington ever could.

TIME TO QUIT?: Fox Sports Net's Jim Rome isn't thrilled with the showboating kids he sees on ESPN lately: "If there's a worse idea than putting the (Little League World Series) on (TV), I'm not aware of what that might be. ... The networks should unplug their cameras and just go home. If these kids didn't think they were on TV, or that they might end up on the highlight shows, they would not be acting like this."

It's hard to disagree with him on that point. Those looking to pin all the blame on ESPN, though, are wrong. Let's split it 50-50 between excessive coverage and the major-leaguers the kids emulate.

HARD KNOCKS, INDEED: After four episodes of the bland Hard Knocks, how obvious is it that HBO's cameras are about five years too late at the Dallas Cowboys camp? Throw in Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders, Nate Newton and Jerry Jones' old face, and you have something.

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