Wolves announcer Jason Shaver staying busy without games

He doesn’t have games to call, and it’s anybody’s guess when he will again, but Shaver’s voice is still being heard on the team’s “Chicago Wolves: Life Under The Pandemic” limited-series podcast.

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Jason Shaver, left, is staying busy without hockey. Billy Gardner is on the right.

Ross Dettman/Courtesy of Jason Shaver

In the middle of April, Wolves play-by-play announcer Jason Shaver is usually working with analyst Billy Gardner as the end of the regular season meets the beginning of the Calder Cup playoffs. The Wolves’ 2019-20 schedule was supposed to end last Saturday, and the postseason would have begun shortly after.

COVID-19 has destroyed those plans and made the spring of 2020 far from normal. The AHL won’t restart until May at the earliest, it’s unknown how the league would look if it does, and few observers would be surprised if the season eventually is cancelled.

But Shaver is staying busy. He doesn’t have games to call and it’s anybody’s guess when he will again, yet his voice is still being heard on the team’s “Chicago Wolves: Life Under The Pandemic” limited series podcast. Along with Wolves digital-content manager Imran Javed, Shaver has explored topics like team-picture day that came just as the sports world stopped and a scheduled three-game weekend that never happened.

It’s not calling games, but it’s still talking hockey and taking a good amount of Shaver’s time. He coordinates with Javed, interviews guests and crafts outlines for the episodes.

“This has given me an opportunity to talk to players, talk to Wolves personnel, staff and management,” Shaver said. “At least you have a daily correspondence with people that you’re used to being with. That takes away some of that anxiety of just sitting at home with nothing to do.”

As for whether the Wolves get back to playing, Shaver is aware of the calendar but holding on to some optimism. The longer the delay goes, the harder it will be for the league to come back to wrap up the season.

But at the same time, the NHL still is looking to salvage its season, and the AHL often follows what the NHL does.

“If the NHL is able to come back,” Shaver said, “maybe the AHL will be able to come back in some form too.”

When the AHL does play again, Shaver is confident it will be done safely and with the blessing of government experts. He noted how, on March 12, the Wolves and chairman Don Levin canceled their remaining eight regular-season home games after consulting with governor J.B. Pritzker.

That aspect is especially important for Shaver, who lives on the top floor of an

Andersonville two-flat with his wife, Karin. Her parents, in their 70s, live in the garden unit and Shaver and Karin are doing their shopping to keep them safe.

He wouldn’t want to put them at risk by working too early, and he thinks the Wolves and AHL only would make the call to return when the time is right.

“Passing it on to my in-laws is something that would be terrifying, and you certainly don’t want to spread the disease,” Shaver said. “As far as work environment, if we were given the all-clear to do so, I would feel 100 percent confident in going to do my job. I look forward to hopefully doing my job at some point in the future.”

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