Mike Lange, known for his colorful phrases from the broadcast booth, is returning for his 32nd season doing Penguins play-by-play, his second as the team's radio voice.
The one-year contract announced yesterday by the Penguins is not the multiyear deal that was being discussed earlier this offseason -- "We're just going to take it one year at a time," Lange said -- but it does contain what the outgoing broadcaster called "an interesting new wrinkle."
In addition to his radio work, Lange and the team are going to market a signature line of items, such as shirts with logos of some of his more popular sayings. He said fans will get a chance to vote online for their favorites.
Phrases such as "He beat him like a rented mule," "Scratch my back with a hacksaw," and "Buy Sam a drink and get his dog one, too," have made Lange as popular locally as some of the players.
Radio color analyst Phil Bourque will return for his fourth season, his second with Lange, after agreeing two a two-year contract.
The Penguins' radio flagship is WXDX-FM 105.9.
Lange was fired as the Penguins' TV voice by cable network FSN Pittsburgh following the 2005-06 season and replaced by former radio broadcaster Paul Steigerwald. Weeks later, Lange signed on with the club to move to radio last season. The switch to radio was a step down in prestige and pay.
Lange said he is not biding his time doing radio until he can land another TV job.
"Right now, it's not a radio-TV issue," he said. "I'm just going to see how things go. I still enjoy what I'm doing."
Bourque, a member of both of the Penguins' Stanley Cup championship teams in the early 1990s, became a team broadcaster when Eddie Olczyk left his job as TV analyst beside Lange to take over as the Penguins coach. Analyst Bob Errey then moved from radio to TV.
"It's been an unbelievable treat for me to work with a Hall of Famer like that," Bourque said of Lange, who in 2001 received the Foster Hewitt Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"We have fun, and I think that translates to the on-air product. We have good chemistry, but that doesn't just develop in one year. I think it's going to take a while for that to get to where we want it to be.
"Of course, I think the team being that good made us sound better together in our first year."
Lange also is happy with the rapport he has with Bourque.
"I'm waiting for Bourquie to teach me a few new things," Lange said, showing some of his trademark humor.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1721.