Tonight the New York Islanders are saluting legendary NHL broadcaster Jiggs McDonald, who called play-by-play during their dynasty years and well beyond, as he steps into their broadcast booth to handle those duties for perhaps the last time.
Since his return to the Isles booth in 2006 -- at the invitation of Howie Rose — McDonald has filled in with spot duty and guest appearances in most seasons, particularly when Howie Rose was on a break or handling baseball. But this season he has indicated those days are likely over.
For most Islanders fans old enough to experience his heyday, each reappearance was a welcome delight, the sounds of his voice an evocative reminder of the franchise’s best moments and the thrill of those times.
And it wouldn’t have happened if not for a franchise move. McDonald had moved from the Los Angeles Kings to the Islanders’ expansion sibling the Atlanta Flames, but when the Flames moved to Calgary “they weren’t moving a broadcaster.”
So Jiggs joined the Isles just in time for their dynasty run. He worked with other teams after the Isles backward management didn’t renew his contract in 1995, but he’s always had a special place in the Islanders heart and memory.
Tonight, he’s back in the booth as the Isles salute him for 50 years (he began with the expansion Kings in 1967).
More from Burke on Jiggs here.
Oh, also, there is a game:
Greiss In, Hamonic, Barkov Out
The Islanders expect to start Thomas Greiss in goal but will have one lineup change since their double overtime losses out West: Travis Hamonic, injured late in the game against the Coyotes, will be out and replaced by Adam Pelech.
Pelech hasn’t played with the Isles since suffering an injury on a big hit Nov. 28.
The visiting Florida Panthers are much healthier than they were at the beginning of the season, but they are still without dynamic center and leading scorer Aleksander Barkov.
Also, this is their first trip back to Barclays Center since this...
In so, so many ways, for both franchises that feels like a long time ago.
How to Salute Jiggs
With the return to civilization, this game is back on MSG+ for the call with Jiggs. Radio is 660AM, 101.9FM - WFAN, 88.7FM - WRHU.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by game time, which is 7 p.m. EST.
Check the Florida perspective at Panthers blog Litter Box Cats.