Nick Hart doesn’t hesitate to broadcast his excitement about his new role with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
“I wish I could fast forward to the season just to get it started,” he said.
Hart, 25, was named as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s new play-by-play broadcaster, stepping into the role vacated by Mike O’Brien, who left the organization last week to pursue other career opportunities in Boston.
Hart joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton prior to the 2015-16 season, serving as the Pens’ media relations manager while providing color commentary for the team’s broadcasts. The 2015 graduate of Ohio University will still maintain the role of media relations director, but for someone who grew up watching the Pittsburgh Penguins, the chance to call the games of its AHL affiliate is a dream come true.
“I don’t underestimate what it means to be doing this at this level,” said Hart, who previously handled play-by-play duties for the Ohio University hockey team and filled in for O’Brien several times during last season.
Hart is the fourth broadcaster for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, following in the footsteps of Tom Grace, Scott Stuccio and O’Brien. He will become one of the youngest broadcasters in the AHL and, as of now, will handle the duties by himself although he said it’s possible someone could be brought in for a few home games.
“I’m thankful to (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton CEO) Jeff Barrett, (vice president of operations) Brian Coe for this opportunity and Mike O’Brien for being a mentor,” Hart said. “The fact that my journey has taken me through the organization I grew up watching is hard to believe.”
In another front office move, Jason Spess was named manager of team services, a role that O’Brien handled last season.
Spess has served as assistant general manager of the Toyota SportsPlex for the past two years and served as an assistant coach with the Penguins’ ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers, last season.
“Mike did a tremendous job during his seven-year tenure in Wilkes-Barre, not only behind the microphone, but behind the scenes handling the team services functions for the club,” Barrett said. “We are also happy to hand these new duties to Nick and Jason, who have worked tirelessly for the team over the past several years.”
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky