NESN Bruins studio host Dale Arnold knew retirement was coming, but maybe not so soon

Arnold, who shared studio hosting duties with Sophia Jurksztowicz, was away last Sunday watching television at his home in Maine when the Panthers ousted the Bruins with a 4-3 overtime win.

The 67-year-old announced in mid-April that this season would be his last. But he acknowledges he was confident the Bruins, who won an NHL-record 65 regular-season games, among other accomplishments, would have a much longer stay in the playoffs, which would help him somehow. easily retire. But the Bruins did not cooperate.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “We knew all this season that that was it. But now that it’s here, it’s kind of like, OK, now what do I do? Part of me is ready to step back and relax a bit. And part of me thinks, ‘What’s it gonna be like next October when they start skating again?’ ”

Like other Boston sports fans, Arnold wondered why such a successful and promising season went haywire against the Panthers.

“Things were just different than they were in the regular season,” Arnold said. “They did some things from a personal perspective that puzzled me. [Jakub] Lauko instead of [Trent] Frederic, [Connor] Clifton instead of [Matt] Grzelcyk.

“It was clear to me watching that something was going on with [goaltender] Linus Ullmark. And I’m not sure what the hesitation was, but it definitely wasn’t the same team I’ve been watching all season.

When something meaningful comes to an end, it’s natural to think back to when it began. The versatile Arnold has had a varied career in Boston sports media. He is the only broadcaster to call at least one game for the Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and the Revolution, and was a sports radio host at WEEI from its inception in 1991 until his retirement from the station in March 2021.

He is best known for his work with the Bruins, with his time at WEEI a close runner-up. But it was actually an opportunity with the Patriots that brought him to the Boston market.

“I was calling the New Jersey Devils games in 1988, and I was contacted by Cary Pahigian at WHDH [radio]. He said, ‘Curt Gowdy is leaving. He doesn’t want to do Patriots anymore. Would you be interested in coming here?

“So I interviewed during the Bruins-Devils Stanley Cup playoffs in May 1988. I said, ‘Look, I haven’t played football in years. I don’t have any football tapes. All I can do is send you a hockey tape. I sent a Devils-Edmonton Oilers game. Cary took it to Patriots general manager Patrick Sullivan and he approved my hire based on me calling Wayne Gretzky beating the Devils.

Arnold called the Patriots games from 1988 to the infamous 1-15 season in 1990.

“I did it basically so I could get into the Boston market, and then it just kind of went from there,” he said.

Arnold said the play-by-play call for Bruins games, which he did on NESN from 1995-96 to 2006-07, was his greatest joy.

“Oh, easily the Bruins. The Bruins play-by-play was what I loved the most,” he said, briefly lamenting that he gave up play-by-play work after signing an extension with WEEI in 2007.

NESN wanted a play-by-play voice for games at home and on the road — network management called it “unifying our Bruins broadcast team” at the time — and Arnold’s radio obligations made commuting difficult.

Jack Edwards, who had called games on the road the previous two seasons, became the full-time voice of play-by-play, and remains so today.

“I had just signed a five-year contract with WEEI and I should have broken the contract to go and play every Bruins game,” Arnold said. “So, I didn’t feel honorable to do that. And then, a few years later, ‘EEI fired me. [He was actually moved to weekends in 2011 before returning to a full-time weekday role in 2014.] So I guess that goes to show that trying to do the right thing doesn’t always turn out the right way.

Arnold became the studio host for NESN’s Bruins broadcasts during the 2011-12 season after Kathryn Tappen left for the NHL Network. Arnold said the camaraderie with Billy Jaffe and Barry Pederson, with whom he has worked for 11 years, as well as more recent Andrew Raycroft, is what he will miss most.

“But honestly,” Arnold said. “There isn’t a part of this job that I have never loved.”


Chad Finn can be contacted at chad.finn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.

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