JT Brown and Everett Fitzhugh are about to make history.
The duo is set to host the NHL's first-ever all-Black television broadcast, taking place when the Seattle Kraken face the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. Fitzhugh is usually the Kraken's radio play-by-play announcer, and will be joining Brown, a regular Kraken analyst, on the TV side.
Seattle's incumbent television play-by-play voice, John Forslund, will be working on a different network Thursday night. That created an opportunity for Fitzhugh and Brown to collaborate in a truly meaningful way.
"It all goes back to representation matters, that's the overarching theme here," Fitzhugh told NHL.com. "I didn't have Black broadcasters [and] play-by-play people to look up to when I was growing up. I didn't know play-by-play was an option until I got to college, as far as a career goes. So to have that stage, to have that platform with [Brown] and to show people that, 'Hey, there are two Black men calling hockey games,' is something that I think will hopefully inspire other people."
Big congratulations to @TheVoiceFitz and @JTBrown23, who will make @NHL history later this month. This was from the @SeattleKraken post game show last night. @KevinWeekes @NHLBarryMelrose @espn @ESPNPlus pic.twitter.com/hzZkfnFVIb— ᴀʀᴅᴀ Öᴄᴀʟ (@Arda) February 12, 2022
Everett paid his dues at every level of hockey broadcasting, announcing games in the ECHL, USHL and NCAA. He was also director of media relations for the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones and was part of the broadcasting crew at the 2018 ECHL All-Star Game.
The breadth of Everett's work got him on the Kraken's radar, and in August 2020, the NHL's 32nd franchise hired him to become the league's first full-time Black broadcaster and the only Black play-by-play announcer in professional hockey.
Now he's hooking up with Brown, a comparative newbie in the broadcasting sphere. Brown transitioned behind the mic after playing seven seasons in the NHL for Tampa Bay, Anaheim, and Minnesota. He called it a career after spending the 2020-21 campaign in Sweden, having tallied 72 points in 365 NHL games.
Seattle hired Brown to be its first TV analyst in June 2021, on the same day Brown announced his retirement from playing. He and Fitzhugh immediately formed an easy bond, which will be on full display for others come Thursday.
"To be able to call a game, and share a booth with my friend, that's what I'm most excited about [with] this whole thing," Fitzhugh said.
Brown undoubtedly feels the same, and like Fitzhugh is hoping their moment in the spotlight will lead to increased visibility for minority broadcasters throughout hockey.
"It's baby steps, moving the needle," Brown said. "I think the league as a whole is taking steps to feel more inclusive, and this can be one of them. [Having] Black play-by-play and color commentators, I think it's a big thing just for visual representation."