Rob Carlin, a staple of Capitals coverage at NBC Sports Washington for a decade, was among the wave of layoffs that hit NBCUniversal’s regional sports networks this week.

Carlin received the news on Monday morning, a few hours before he was scheduled to host the first “Capitals Pregame Live” show since the NHL’s season was paused due to the novel coronavirus pandemic in March. Carlin said NBCSW GM Damon Phillips called to inform him that his contract, which is due to expire in October, would not be renewed and gave him the option of hosting that afternoon or taking the day off to be with his family.

After gathering his thoughts and talking to his wife and a few friends, Carlin texted Phillips to say he still wanted to work the game with co-hosts Alan May, Brent Johnson and Grant Paulsen. After all, he had been counting down the days until Capitals hockey returned on social media and still considered the pregame and postgame shows his own.

“It was probably the toughest day of my career,” Carlin said in a phone interview. “My hands were shaking and my mouth was dry. At one point, I thought, ‘Oh God, perhaps this wasn’t a great idea to be here.’ But to be honest, the two best hours of that day were the hour pregame and the hour postgame. Talking hockey with those guys is easy. It was just the rest of the day that was incredibly hard.”

Carlin will continue to host Capitals pregame and postgame shows for the remainder of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He joins Michael Jenkins and Sara Perlman among the local on-air talent to announce they have been or will be let go. Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand tweeted Wednesday that at least 10 NBCSW employees are part of the cuts.

In 2011, NBCSW, which was then known as Comcast SportsNet, hired Carlin to replace Russ Thaler as the host of the network’s Capitals programming. A University of Maryland graduate, Carlin previously hosted New York Islanders game day coverage on MSG Network and worked as the sports director at WMAR-TV in Baltimore.

While Carlin served as a reporter for the Washington Football Team and co-hosted “SportsTalk Live with Brian Mitchell” for a period during his 10 years in D.C., he’s best known for his work covering the Capitals. For the last three years, starting with Washington’s Stanley Cup championship season, he’s been the exclusive primary host of the team’s pregame and postgame shows.

Growing up on Long Island, Carlin said watching the Islanders’ longtime TV broadcast duo of Jiggs McDonald and Eddie Westfall was as much a part of his fan experience as cheering on Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy. Over the last few years, he said, he’s felt a similar connection with Capitals fans watching from home and those he’s interacted with while hosting shows from NBCSW’s remote set at Capital One Arena.

“I realized that I became a part of people’s Caps experience for the night, and it just has meant the world to me,” said Carlin, who also hosts NBCSW’s “Capitals Talk” podcast. “I’m still a fan at heart, and I know what that means for people. Every time someone stopped me to talk with me about the Caps, or asked for a selfie, I never said no because I loved it. I loved being a part of something. Being part of this the last three years has been by far the best experience of my career.”

Carlin said it was difficult to focus on the action on the ice Monday during the Capitals’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning with everything else swirling in his head, including how much he’ll miss working with his good friend May and many others.

Carlin said Paulsen, his co-host, didn’t hear the news that Carlin was among NBCSW’s cuts until after Monday’s postgame show.

“He called me and said, ‘Dude, I don’t know how you did that,'" Carlin said. "'I never would’ve suspected a thing.' That’s what I’m hoping will be the case all the way through [the playoffs]. I have my job to do, and while I figure out the rest of my life for the other 19 hours of that day, for that five-hour stretch of preparing, going on air, watching the game and doing postgame, that’s the only thing I’ll focus on, telling the story of that game.”

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