Sometimes, it’s just a fact that news has a feel-good angle. That was the case Wednesday when former Pittsburgh Penguins player Joe Vitale was named the new radio game analyst for his hometown St. Louis Blues.
It’s not just that the former fourth-liner and penalty-killer has found an interesting and productive way to remain in hockey after his playing career. A lot of guys have done that.
And it works out well that he scored a job with the Blues after settling back in his hometown with his family.
Vitale, who turns 33 next week, also has been able to emerge from a horrific ordeal following a career-ending concussion and eye injury from a fight while he was with Phoenix.
He was graciously open and honest in discussing his dark days and his recovery with Pittsburgh Hockey Now earlier this summer.
Vitale replaces Kelly Chase, who left after 18 seasons. He will join play-by-play man Chris Kerber.
Vitale, interviewed Wednesday on Blues flagship station KMOX when the announcement was made, said Kerber — also a team executive who led the search for a sidekick — asked him to come to Enterprise Center to talk earlier this week.
“I met Chris in the lobby and he said, ‘OK, let’s go up to the (radio) booth. All I could thing was, ‘If he’s going to bring me all the way downtown and all the way to the booth to tell me I didn’t get the job, I will be furious. He will see a side of me that I don’t think he knows about yet,” Vitale said with a laugh. “But it didn’t happen that way.”
Vitale got and accepted the job offer.
He also noted that his father’s company, Vee-Jay Construction, poured the concrete floor at the Blues home arena during renovations, and he helped out by shoveling some of the concrete.
Vitale said one of his inspirations in his new job is Penguins radio analyst and former player Phil Bourque, seeing the professionalism Bourque brought to his job.
As we recall from his years with the Penguins – he was a seventh-round pick by them in 2005 – Vitale has the gift of gab. He spent four years at Northeastern University and is smart and thoughtful.
In addition, given the descriptive and eloquent way Vitale described his injury ordeal, it stands to reason he will do well in his new gig.