Although training camp is more than a month away, someone from Hershey has already joined the Caps.
John Walton, the former voice of the Bears, has been tapped to become the Caps' new radio play-by-play announcer. Walton replaces veteran Steve Kolbe, who is not being brought back after 14 seasons in Washington.
Kolbe had been working on a year-to-year contract with the Caps but was informed in July that the team planned to open up the position to others. He was welcome to apply, which he did.
“I'm not sure it's sunk in yet,” Walton, 38, said by phone moments ago. “I spent years in the American [Hockey] League and you always wait and hope for this opportunity. I've seen a lot of Hershey Bears become Washington Capitals and I would be lying if I said I hadn't wondered what that would feel like. It's the greatest opportunity of my life and I can't wait to take advantage of it.”
Walton said he interviewed for the position last week and was informed last night that he had been hired.
It's going to be a quick turnaround for Walton, who's got less than a month to get settled in the Washington area. But, on the upside, at least he's already familiar with many of the current Caps and two of the coaches, Bruce Boudreau and Bob Woods.
“The first call I got this morning at 8 a.m. was from Bruce Boudreau,” Walton said. “That meant the world to me. It was about the time I heard from him that I realized my dream had come true. It's a moment I won't forget.”
Walton's signature call after a Bears' victory has been, “Good morning, good afternoon and good night [insert name of team the Bears just beat here].”
That, he said, is also making its way down I-83.
“If the question is will I continue to do that,” he said with a laugh, “the answer is, 'Yes.'”