Photo: @bwillgress

The last three Washington Capitals game broadcasts have been different. They’ve been missing the finely dressed Joe Beninati, who has been the team’s play-by-play man for HTS/CSN Washington since 1994.

Beninati was last seen on television on Friday, when he was covering the NCAA Hockey Midwest Regional for ESPNU in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“We had two semifinal games [to call on] Friday,” Beninati told me by email. “On Friday afternoon before the games began, I felt like my voice was weakening with laryngitis. I called both games and by the time I finished those six hours on air, my voice was shot.”

Beninati, who had been given a scheduled day off Saturday from CSN Washington to cover the Regional Final for ESPN, could not do so because his voice was completely gone.

The next night — not so much.

“I was supposed to call our CSN / Caps game in Nashville Sunday, but my voice was nowhere near strong enough to work a game,” Beninati said. “So, I watched Al and Craig do the game from the booth standing right next to them!”

Joe B. hoped he would be healthy enough to call the Caps/Stars game on Tuesday, but his doctors thought his voice could use an extra few days of rest to make it through the rest of the season.

When I asked Beninati if he was enjoying some rare time off from his hectic schedule, the hard-working play-by-play man admitted he has been absolutely miserable.

“Thankfully, this doesn’t happen very often to me,” Beninati said. “When it does, it’s the most helpless, horrible feeling you can imagine. Simply put, I can’t do what I love to do and that really hurts me.”

Beninati was also very appreciative of Al Koken, who has stepped in during a very busy time for the network.

“I am very grateful to Al for all the extra effort he has put in to substitute for me,” Beninati said. “Our home-ice production team has been together for a long time (Director Bill Bell, Producer Steve Farrell, Graphics Coordinator Adam Miller, Stage Manager Tom Morris) so when one of the announcers has to miss a game, those guys make it a smooth transition for whomever has to fill in.”

Joe B. is optimistic that Friday, when the Capitals travel up I-95 to take on the Devils in New Jersey, will be the day he returns.

“If all goes well, I will be with the team on Friday,” Beninati said. “My voice has strengthened a great deal today. The medicines are taking their effect. Two more days of almost complete silence should help get me back to where I need to be.”

While Al has done admirably in Joe’s absence, we need him back — the sooner the better.

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  • I like smokin’ al, but I pray he never calls another game again. He’s a terrible play by play guy, we’re blessed to have Joe B.

  • Daniel

    thanks for the update! get well soon, joe b!

  • Hatfield

    Calle Johansson and Marcus Johansson…No relation?

  • I don’t think he’s terrible at all. In fact I think Al’s very good. I just think Joe B. is in such a different stratosphere for play-by-play guys – he’s one of the best in the league – it feels like a HUGE difference.

  • Also props to Dan Steinberg, another master of his craft, for first reporting on this last night:

  • Brackaphobia

    Joe B is awesome. I want to hear Locker call the play-by-play. Now that would be entertainment!

  • I could barely listen last night, he was that bad.

    Ol’ Gary Thorne can call a hockey game too, a shame he’s now busy with baseball though.

  • Chas

    nothing compares 2 u, Joe B!

  • ErskSMASH

    joe b being scratched these past few games is def my leading cause as to why we have sunk and arent making the PLAYOFFS?!?!

  • Chris Cerullo

    We truly are very lucky

  • Evan

    At Caps Casino night, I told him he’s the best at announcing goal tallies, and his voice gets me pumped when we score.
    He replied quite aggressively: Well I haven’t been able to do it lately, we aren’t scoring any goals!

  • VeggieTart

    Wow, I can’t wait to have you back, Joe B.!

  • Graham Dumas

    “I am very grateful to Calle Johansson for all the extra effort…”

  • Pat Magee

    Would’ve been hilariously awesome to have May do the play-by-play with locker next to him. Would’ve made these last games bearable!

  • Myan

    “I can’t do what I love to do and that really hurts me.” Love you, buddy.

  • JenniferH

    JoeB, you’ve been missed!!!

  • JenniferH

    I love Joe B. Sometimes I can’t get a CSN stream and the comparison is quite wanting. (Screw it, I’m shelling out for gamecenter next year, argggh.) Listening to other guys, there’s just no comparison to Joe B. He is so good.

  • Owen Johnson

    Does Joe B need a phone book to sit on?