Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ex-voice of the Jets hopes to return to airwaves this fall

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CURT Keilback has "THE WRAP AROUND!" at the ready.

The longtime voice of the Winnipeg Jets is hoping to get back behind the microphone when the new incarnation of the team takes to the ice this fall.

He has been in contact with Sports Radio 1290, which the Free Press reported last week will broadcast the games this season, as well as True North Sports & Entertainment, the team's owner.

"I would like to be involved," said Keilback, who did play-by-play and colour commentary for Jets' radio and television broadcasts for 17 years. "Given my druthers, I'd certainly rather do play-by-play, but if it meant being involved in a different capacity, that would certainly be of interest to me."

Keilback followed the old Winnipeg Jets club to Phoenix in 1996 and called the games until the team decided not to renew his contract for the 2007-08 season.

He hasn't been sitting around letting his pipes rust, though. He called about 25 Manitoba Junior Hockey League games on NCI-FM last winter.

"That was a lot of fun and enjoyable. It convinced me that I can still do it," he said.

And two years ago, he did play-by-play on a couple of Buffalo Sabres broadcasts in Calgary and Edmonton when the team's regular announcer couldn't make it.

Keilback said he also learned a lesson about keeping his voice in shape years ago from one of the best to ever call a hockey game, Danny Gallivan. One night during a mid-week Jets game in Montreal, the Hockey Night In Canada legend was sitting in a booth next to Keilback. He wasn't working, just watching the game.

"During a commercial break, I heard this familiar voice. I looked over and there, doing the play-by-play into his fist, was Danny Gallivan. I remember smiling to myself and thinking, 'No wonder this guy is so good,' " he said.

Keilback said he'll do play-by-play in his head when he watches games on television, and if nobody is around, he'll do it out loud.

"I'm usually here with my wife. I don't think she'd want to hear that," he said with a laugh.

The Free Press reported last week the Jets are expected to announce shortly they have reached a deal on a new broadcast agreement with Bell Media. The deal would mean the NHL's return to the city will be televised on TSN and broadcast on TSN radio on Sports Radio 1290.

The move ends a long association between True North and CJOB, which held the radio rights for the Manitoba Moose since their inception 15 years ago and for the Jets prior to the move to the desert.

Chris Brooke, 1290's program director, said it's too early to speculate on who might be in the broadcast booth because the radio and television deal has yet to be formally announced.

Tabaracci save! Rebound!


SOME Jets fans have even taken to Facebook to show their support with "Bring Back Curt Keilback" and "Gotta Be Curt" pages. In addition to showing numerous clips of Keilback's calls, the pages ask fans to call 1290 and request that he be the play by play man for Jets games this season.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 29, 2011 A6

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