Hey Seattle Kraken fans, get ready for an influx of funnel cakes.
If you’re a longtime Everett Silvertips fan, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you’re a Kraken fan, you’re about to find out.
When the Kraken’s 2023-24 NHL season begins Tuesday night against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Vegas Golden Knights, those of us in this part of the Puget Sound region will hear a familiar voice on Seattle’s radio broadcast of the game. Al Kinisky, who spent a decade as the color commentator on Everett Silvertips radio broadcasts, is reprising that role with the Kraken on Sports Radio KJR.
So the man with the signature, “Bring on the funnel cakes!” victory tagline is once again hitting the airwaves.
“It’s pretty phenomenal,” Kinisky said about becoming the Kraken’s radio color analyst. “I can’t say enough good things about the organization and the people I’ve met so far. The culture is not just something you see on their website, there’s a real genuineness to it.”
Kinisky, 51, served as Everett’s radio color commentator from 2006-16. His tenure spanned four play-by-play announcers, as he spent one season with Keith Gerhart, four each with Jon Rosen and Travis Huntington, and one with Mike Benton.
And it was during his time beside Rosen that, “Bring on the funnel cakes!” was born.
“Neither of us had called a road win against Seattle,” Rosen said when explaining the origin story. “The Tips were not good at KeyArena, and even at ShoWare Center they were O-fer. So when we finally won a game at ShoWare, I think it was late in the 2008-09 season, we were so happy and relieved that we decided to go to a brewery across the street to have a couple beers. They had funnel cakes on the menu and we were like, ‘Why not?’ So it became a very natural — if completely esoteric — way to end a broadcast win over Seattle, with Al saying, ‘Bring on the funnel cakes!’”
Kinisky served up plenty of funnel cakes before stepping down from the Silvertips gig in 2016 so he could spend his evenings watching his own children playing sports, rather than talking about other people’s children. But those children are now grown, and Kinisky was considering getting back into the game when Dave Tomlinson, who served as the Kraken’s radio color commentator during the franchise’s first two seasons, departed to join the Vancouver Canucks’ television broadcast team. That’s when Kinisky received a fateful call.
“I thought it was a prank call,” Kinisky said about his initial reaction when KJR reached out to him.
“I always had that voice in the back of my head saying this was something I wanted to come back to,” said Kinisky, whose full-time job was as an executive in corporate real estate. “I’m not quite an empty nester, but my kids are independent and no longer do sports, so I felt that going back now wouldn’t have the impact on my family like like it did when I was with Everett.”
Kinisky interviewed with KJR. He underwent a tryout with play-by-play man Everett Fitzhugh, where the pair simulated a broadcast while watching one of Seattle’s playoff games against Colorado from last season. Then two weeks ago he was hired, joining the likes of Benton (who’s also member of the KJR broadcast team), equipment manager James Stucky and photographer Chris Mast in a Silvertips reunion with the Kraken.
So what are listeners going to get from Kinisky?
1) Hockey knowledge. Kinisky played hockey at a high level. Although he never reached the NHL, he spent three seasons in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds and Lethbridge Hurricanes, so he has first-hand expertise in playing the game at an elite level. And he’s able to convey that knowledge with an efficiency of verbiage — throwing a dash of self-deprecating humor about his own career in for effect.
2) Enthusiasm. Kinisky was fully invested while broadcasting Silvertips games, but without crossing over the line into boosterism. Rosen remembered that when Everett’s Kyle Beach scored a lacrosse-style goal from behind the net, Kinisky banged the wall of the broadcast booth in excitement so hard that it could be heard by the listeners. That’s how much he cares.
3) Local perspective. Kinisky, who’s originally from the greater Vancouver, B.C., area, spent two-plus seasons with the T-birds, married a local, and has called the Seattle area his home for 34 years. He’s embedded in the local hockey community, and he’s been on the ride with the Kraken from the day the team was announced, just like the rest of us. So he’s simpatico with the listeners.
“If there was someone born for this job in this market, it was Al,” said Benton, who made sure to give a full endorsement to KJR management. “He has the hockey acumen and he has the local acumen. How do you make a connection with the fans? Success it the obvious thing, but it’s also about how much you’re able to relate to the listener. He’s been a resident in this area since the early 90s, he’s seen how the hockey landscape has grown, and people gravitate to him for that reason. It’s why I think he’s such a great fit for this team.”
Kinisky hopes the fit will be for the long haul.
“I think my mentality is that I’m not someone who’s counting down the days until retirement,” Kinisky said. “At this point in my life I’m looking for career opportunities that I enjoy doing, rather than things I have to do to pay the bills, and this is definitely that. If I did this for a few years or two decades, I’m going to be happy about it.”
Will Kinisky be bringing his “funnel cakes” call with him to the Kraken broadcasts? “When it feels right, you’ll hear it,” he responded.
And then the entire Puget Sound region will get the chance to appreciate Kinisky the way we do in Everett.
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.