Bruce makes history on Red Wings' radio broadcast
Detroit — Sure there were a few butterflies Saturday afternoon, looking ahead to the evening's Red Wings' game, but Daniella Bruce wasn't worried about it.
Bruce made history Saturday evening, becoming the first woman to be on any Wings' broadcast, being Ken Kal's color analyst. Paul Woods was not available either Saturday or Sunday because of COVID-19.
"I don't think they're the bad type, it's all about excitement and as soon as we get going, it'll be fine," Bruce said Saturday afternoon.
Bruce was scheduled to do Thursday's game against Anaheim, only to see it rescheduled to Sunday when the Ducks had nearly half its team on COVID protocol.
"It was pretty funny," Bruce said. "I found out in the morning I was going to be filling in for Paul Woods and was driving to Little Caesars Arena to get there early and do my prep work. Just as I walking into the building, I got the phone call (about the game being postponed) and turned around and walked back to my car.
"But I knew I was going to do Saturday's game and Sunday's as well. I had to look at the bright side."
The history surrounding this weekend's broadcasts aren't lost on Bruce, although it hasn't totally hit her yet.
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"It does mean a ton," Bruce said. "I don't know if that aspect of it has hit me quite yet. I know there's so many women out there who are doing it and have paved the way, like a Caley Chelios (Chicago Blackhawks), Leah Hextall, A.J. Mleczko (both national broadcasters). They've all been doing it and doing such a great job with it.
"To be the next one, and first one to do it for my hometown team nonetheless, is very, very special.
"It hasn't sunk in yet, but it will later."
Bruce has done color analyst work with Kal during training camp. They've called prospects tournament games and the annual Wings' intrasquad Red & White game, and have some chemistry in the booth.
"He steers me in the right direction and I know how to set him up," she said. "I know his style and how he likes to call things. I don't think I'll have any troubles from that aspect. Our chemistry is great and Ken's a great friend to me and great mentor.
"I know Ken Kal was a huge advocate for me and I have to thank him. He has done so much for me and pushed for me to get on the broadcast with him. I'm really excited."
With Woods having contracted the virus, and Kal having worked with him earlier in the week, the decision was made for Kal to broadcast the three Wings' games in California from Little Caesars Arena, as was the case last season.
So Kal and Bruce broadcasted off the video screen, which is a bit different and more challenging than calling a live game.
"It's always great to see the entire ice, but I'm sure Ken will steer me in the right direction," Bruce said.
When Woods came down with the virus in the middle of the week, Bruce came to Kal's mind quickly given their history during training camp.
The original plan was for Kal to do the game himself, but Bruce's ability and knowledge of the team stood out.
"I called Daniella and asked whether she'd consider doing color," Kal said. "I ran it by everybody and, obviously, she's doing the game.
"I know she can do it. The thing about Daniella is, she's a very good communicator and has worked hard to get to this point. She's really good at what she does and has improved a lot over the last few years. She's very talented."
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Bruce graduated from Anchor Bay, and Michigan State, before joining the State Champs high school show. For the last five years, Bruce has been a digital reporter and producer for Red Wings TV, including serving as the host of Game Day Live, the in-venue show at LCA, and digital streaming The Forecheck and The Word on Woodward shows, while covering the Wings and Detroit Tigers.
"I don't think I've ever been as excited for an opportunity in my career," Bruce said. "Especially having worked with Ken Kal in the past, I'm so excited to call a game with him.
"It hasn't quite hit me that I'll be the first woman to do it, but I hope there are other girls like me, who was a 13-year-old at the time and wanted to be in sports broadcasting, and I hope somebody out there will be listening and watching tonight and have the same feeling of 'I can do that.'
"That's the best part about it. I've been in those shoes and I know exactly how that feels."