By Kevin Callahan
Paul McCann, who grew up in Pennsauken, is the public address announcer for the National Predators of the National Hockey League, and each game he brings some of “The Zink” with him.
When he was just 6 years old, he attended a Sixers game at the old Spectrum and the public address announcer was the one-of-a-kind Dave “The Zink” Zinkoff, who made quite an impression on the young McCann.
The Zink, whose distinctive voice and unique flair made him a fan favorite, would be proud of McCann behind the microphone.
With the Predators down 2-0 in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals and facing elimination in 60 seconds, McCann did his usual end-of-period routine by informing the crowd at the Bridgestone Arena with his own distinguished voice that there was “one minute left in the third period.”
And the disappointed sold-out crowd still responded with their customary, “thanks, Paul.” Yes, the Nashville crowd says, “thanks, Paul” with one minute left in every period of every game in response to McCann.
McCann, 56, has been living near Nashville for almost 30 years now. He says it is “wild” and “a rush when 17,000 people say thank you to you.”
Indeed, McCann is a fan favorite in Nashville like The Zink was in Philly.
“I went over for the first time in 1966-67, the year they won the championship,” McCann recalled about seeing Wilt Chamberlain play and hearing Zink’s voice for the first time.
McCann, who played basketball at Catholic Youth Organization power St. Cecilia’s in Pennsauken in the 1970s, doesn’t have a nickname like The Zink. Well, not yet.
“No,” McCann said humorously, “I’m just Paul.”
McCann was as impressed by Zink as he was Wilt.
“My brothers remember me doing Julius Errrrrrrrrrving,”McCann added fondly about one of The Zink’s trademark calls.
McCann, who skipped school for the Flyers Stanley Cup Parade in 1975, also grew up watching and listening to Gene Hart and Don Earle, the Flyers television commentators.
And, like the way Gene Hart signed off every game, McCann tells the Nashville crown “Good Night, Good Hockey” after the final horn.
McCann said, “I really learned the game from listening to Gene Hart.”
McCann actually started as an arena announcer at Camden Catholic High School for the basketball games. Ironically, Jim Crawford, who was drafted by the 76ers out of LaSalle University in 1973, was in his first year as the head coach of the Irish in 1979 when McCann was a senior.
“I remember having a record player under the stands,” McCann recalled, “and playing music in between periods.”
McCann, who acted in plays at Camden Catholic, moved to Nashville in 1988 with his wife, Denise for a nightclub disc jockey job. Ten years later, he became a season ticket holder for the Predators.
In 2006, he was hired as the public address announcer.
“These guys are just noisy as hell all the time,” he gushed about the enthusiastic Nashville crowd.
McCann, though, is still a Philly guy.
“I still call myself an 80-game-a-year Flyers fan and also of the Sixers,” McCann said, “and the Eagles.”
McCann works his day job for Artemetrx Speciality Drug Solutions. He also hosts the SlapShot Radio Show with Predators broadcaster Pete Weber, which can be heard on SoundCloud
But McCann knows what job he wants to finish his career with, saying, “we joke about this being my retirement gig” about the public address announcing job.
When he does hang up his microphone, maybe kids in the Music City will be imitating McCann like he did The Zink.
“I still think he’s the only public address announcer in the nation to have his mike retired in the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center,” McCann said.
Who knows? Someday McCann might have banner hanging up at Bridgestone Arena.
“I doubt that,” McCann said. “But what was cool was when we got to the Stanley Cup finals, a couple other public address announcers started a thread on my Facebook and Lou Nolan (the Flyers’ famous public address announcer) commented and just told me to enjoy it.”
Really, McCann couldn’t be enjoying the gig anymore, well, maybe if he had a nickname like “The Zink.”