Fans of Dallas Stars color analyst Daryl “Razor” Reaugh were likely stunned to hear how he described the honor of dropping the ceremonial first puck before the team’s home opener on October 2.
One word? One syllable for the loquacious announcer who fills broadcasts with ten-dollar words? Prodded for more by play-by-play partner Josh Bogorad, Reaugh added, “It felt like a warm hug.”
Throughout 25 years with the team, the convivial ex-goalie and apparent human thesaurus from northern British Columbia has been embraced by the Stars and their fans. “He has a special charisma you just can’t teach,” said Mark Vittorio, the director of Stars telecasts since 2001. “You can’t work toward it. He just has it.”
“I’ve heard some words I’ve never heard before,” said longtime team captain Jamie Benn. “Some great lines. ‘Five-knuckle meat-smoother’ might be my favorite.” (For the uninitiated, that was how Reaugh described Benn’s bloody brawl with Calgary Flames star Jarome Iginla in December 2010.)
“He’s added a flair our game needs,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “He’s got those words he comes up with. He’s got excitement in his voice, which is important.”
Those words: Mastodonic. Lethality. Commodious.
When Benn and brother Jordie played together in Dallas and combined on an unlikely shorthanded goal in November 2015, Reaugh blurted: “This is double-Benn-etration, Jordie to Jamie! Wow!”
“The one thing I didn’t want to be was one of these neanderthal former athletes that say the same crutch word fifty times a broadcast,” said the 56-year-old Reaugh. “Yeah, I enjoy flowery words. You’re trying to get people to lift their head up out of their phone. All of a sudden you get a ‘nefarious,’ and it’s ‘What did Razor just say?’”
“I’m always delighted when Razor comes up with these amazing phrases and adjectives,” said Eric Nadel, the Baseball Hall of Fame voice of the Texas Rangers who came to the Metroplex in the late seventies to broadcast minor-league hockey. “And he’s got just enough smile in his voice.”
Bogorad, in his fourth season as Reaugh’s broadcast partner, said some of Reaugh’s turns of phrase have forced him to mute his microphone to keep his laughter off the air. “Half the time I just give him the benefit of the doubt that in context what he says means what I’m assuming it means,” Bogorad said. “He’s the guy that says those words, but he also for my money is the best hockey analyst on the planet: the way he breaks down a game; the things that he sees; and then to do it with humor, in a way that isn’t really common, either—it’s a pretty impressive trifecta.”
Razorism: “He went at him like a spider monkey there!”
The multisyllabic words and alliterative phrases have become known as Razorisms, a reference to the nickname given to him by a teammate during Reaugh’s first year of Canadian junior hockey in the early eighties.
“Nobody called me that growing up,” he said.
As for the ostentatious content of Razorisms, much credit must go to Reaugh’s fourth-grade teacher at Quinson Elementary in Prince George, British Columbia, a logging town nestled high in the Canadian Rockies. “Mrs. Runchke?” Reaugh said, unsure of the spelling. “She thought I was this fantastic creative writer; I don’t know how creative you can be in fourth grade. She was so encouraging and told me I should do a lot going forward.
“I was an artsy kid,” he continued. “I wanted to be an architect if I wasn’t going to play hockey.”
Razorism: “Such a succulent, saucer pass!”
Another major influence in Reaugh’s youth was Montreal Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden, who accomplished the implausible feat of being named the most outstanding player of the 1971 Stanley Cup Playoffs before winning the NHL’s Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie in the next season. (Dryden was called up from minor-league hockey weeks before the Canadiens’ postseason run in ’71, so his true “rookie” season wasn’t completed until the following year.)
Reaugh plastered the walls of his childhood bedroom walls with Dryden posters. The young goalie idolized Dryden to the point that he taught himself to sign the “D” in Daryl just like Dryden wrote the first letter of his last name. “I sat there and practiced my autograph,” Reaugh recalled. “‘I’m going to need this someday.’”
He loved playing hockey, but Reaugh enjoyed listening to NHL announcers nearly as much. In Prince George, Hockey Night in Canada aired on TV each Saturday at 5 p.m.—right after The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. While watching those broadcasts, Reaugh was mesmerized by the words of announcer Danny Gallivan, whose trademark way with words (referring to slap shots as “cannonading” being perhaps his most famous linguistic stretch) provided an early inspiration for Reaugh.
Razorism: “He avoided that like a dirty diaper.”
“Quite frankly, he was funny as hell,” said Reaugh’s coach in major junior hockey (the level that’s one step below the pros). That coach, Ken Hitchcock, would go on to lead the Dallas Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup. “He was a guy that would make the bus rides—which were tortuous—he’d actually make ’em fun,” Hitchcock recalled of his days with Reaugh on the Kamloops (B.C.) Junior Oilers.
“Daryl Reaugh was the same then as he is now—he doesn’t shut up,” said Dean Evason, Kamloops’s captain then and now coach of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. “He was not only a great goaltender, but he was a great teammate.”
After Reaugh played for Kamloops, the Edmonton Oilers made him the forty-second overall pick in the 1984 NHL draft. Leg injuries, however, severely limited the goalie’s career, and Reaugh wound up playing just 27 NHL games in parts of three seasons sprinkled over eight years. His big-league debut came against the Winnipeg Jets on March 3, 1985, when the Oilers needed reserves to fill in for the team’s standout goalies, Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog. Reaugh assumed he’d back up third-string goalie Marco Baron until the Oilers’ morning skate on game day, when coach Glen Sather kicked Reaugh in the pads and said, “Get a good nap in. You’re starting tonight.”
Didn’t sleep a wink.
“Right now as I talk to you, I can see my mask in front of me shaking,” Reaugh said. “[But] once the puck was dropped, it was just hockey.”
The NHL newbie had a shutout going—for almost five minutes. He was beaten at 4:54 by Jets forward Jim Nill—yes, the Stars’ current general manager.
“I did not know that,” Nill said recently, while vowing to use the trivia against Reaugh in future trash-talking sessions. “Will I ever hang that over his head.”
Well, there’s more to hang; Nill made the game 2–0 when he snuck another puck past Reaugh late in the second period. Winnipeg’s lead swelled to 5–0 at one point. “I think when the Oilers saw I was starting, they figured they’d take the night off,” Reaugh said. But Edmonton’s stars—Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey—gave the kid a chance at a comeback first win with three third-period goals, only to have a Jets empty netter send the fans home with a 6–3 defeat.
“I battled,” Reaugh said. “I was proud I got through the game and wasn’t a complete embarrassment where you got yanked.”
Razorism: “You must elevate to accumulate.”
Reaugh served as a practice player for the Oilers during Edmonton’s 1988 run to the Stanley Cup. In videos of the team’s celebration after clinching the cup, Reaugh can be seen holding the trophy in the bench area for about a second before Gretzky takes the cup to hold in a team photo at center ice. That image was the first of what has become a traditional group shot for Stanley Cup winners, Reaugh said.
His NHL career wound down with twenty games played for the Hartford Whalers in 1990–91, bookended by a five-goal loss to Winnipeg in Reaugh’s final start. Back in the minors, he slid into radio work and decided to pursue broadcasting.
The Whalers gave him his first NHL announcing gig in the 1995–96 season. And Reaugh’s play-by-play partner John Forslund soon learned of Razor’s voluminous vocabulary.
“He’s a wordsmith, and it comes naturally,” said Forslund, now calling games for the Seattle Kraken. “It’s just remarkable the talent he has for that.”
With the franchise expected to move soon (it became the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997), Reaugh sought employment elsewhere. The Stars were in the market for a new analyst, and Reaugh came with the recommendation of his former Canadian coach, Hitchcock, who was entering his second year as the head coach in Dallas.
“It was a no-brainer,” Hitchcock said.
Reaugh’s bombastic style fit the Stars’ strategy of using nontraditional broadcasts and game presentations to gain traction in a North Texas market that was still getting acquainted with the NHL. Then–team president Jim Lites said he liked what he heard on Reaugh’s audition tape—and he still likes it.
“He is unique and continues to bring passion and spirit to the broadcast,” said Lites, now the Stars’ chairman. “A lot of guys burn out in that role, and my impression is that Daryl doesn’t.”
When Dallas was pushing toward the 1999 cup, Reaugh was more than just a color commentator for the team. He often filled a practice net opposite number two goalie Roman Turek to allow starter Ed Belfour to rest his beleaguered back.
“It was a total bonus—they didn’t have to go outside to find a practice goalie,” said Craig Ludwig, a Stars’ defenseman at the time. “It’s not a secret to say Razor’s got a bit of an ego, right? This just kind of added to it. Whether ‘Hully’ [right wing Brett Hull] came down on him or ‘Mo’ [center Mike Modano] came down on him ten times in practice and he stopped three of them [from scoring], which was probably about what his save percentage would be, he could go home and say, ‘Hull and Mo and those guys were shooting at me today, and they didn’t get one by me.’”
Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh, known to fans as “Ralph and Razor,” formed the collective voice of Dallas Stars hockey for eighteen seasons, beginning with the franchise’s fourth year in Texas. That included runs to Stanley Cup finals in 1999, when they nicked the title in a triple-overtime game six in Buffalo with Hull’s left skate conspicuously occupying the crease as he scored the game-winning goal; and in 2000, when the New Jersey Devils defeated the Stars in six games, including a double-overtime clincher at Reunion Arena.
And there was the anguishing evening of March 10, 2014, when Strangis and Reaugh had to explain to fans that veteran Stars forward Rich Peverley suffered a heart attack during the first period of a game at American Airlines Center. (Peverley recovered but never played again.) Remaining silent, given the uncertainty of the situation, was the accepted announcing strategy, but because the Stars simulcast their games on TV and radio, the commentators had to relay enough information for radio listeners as medical personnel attended to Peverley in the tunnel between the benches.
“I thought we’d just watched a hockey player die,” Reaugh recalled.
Razorism: “He stopped more shots than a Mormon at an Irish wake.”
These days, Reaugh plays a significant role in shaping the broadcasts for Stars games, planning pregame packages and in-game graphics. Before a recent game, when he felt they’d produced a few too many infographics for that night’s contest, he deadpanned to the production truck, “We can use that one if all the glass breaks.”
During the team’s morning skates before game nights, Reaugh can usually be found observing the Stars’ preparations from the top row of the lower bowl, away from other media and announcers—including his broadcast partner, Bogorad. “It’s not that I’m antisocial or aloof,” Reaugh said. “I’m there to do something, and I don’t want to talk about what happened on The Masked Singer the night before.”
Dallas coach Rick Bowness said Reaugh’s questions after a skate or practice are different from what he fields from others. “They’re a little more detailed,” Bowness said. “He gets right to the point.”
Before this season, as Reaugh geared up for his twenty-fifth year with the Stars, team president and CEO Brad Alberts invited Reaugh and wife, Kristin, to dinner. He insisted that Reaugh drop the ceremonial first puck before the franchise’s October 22 home opener, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. For once, Reaugh had little to say.
Asked recently about the team’s tribute to him, Reaugh again kept his bombast in check. “You pump out this stuff year after year,” he said, “and you hope people enjoy it.”
To borrow a Razorism, they apparently do so with a fair amount of alacrity.