Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:BRONX, N.Y. — In his 25 years covering the Islanders you can say play-by-play man Chris King has done it all.
King, better known as “Kinger” to those who run into him at an NHL barn, can soon add one more thing to his resume: Calling an outdoor hockey game.
He will be behind the mic for the Islanders radio call when they take on the New York Rangers under the lights at Yankee Stadium. A special moment for some who’s a big Islander and Yankee fan.
“Had it been at Citi field it would have been special as well, but not quite combining these two things of my favorite hockey team and my favorite baseball team,” King said during Islanders practice on Tuesday. “I think it would have been more special if it was across the street five years ago, but it’s still Yankee Stadium. It’s still a thrill to be here. I got to watch Rangers and Devils and it was amazing in the daylight. Now, to see what it’s going to be like at night and to do the call of it, is just a big thrill.”
Wednesday’s radio broadcast will be simulcasted on WCBS 880 AM, as well as on Hofstra University’s WRHU and WRCN 103.9 FM. This will be the third time that Hofstra’s student-run broadcast of an Islander game will be carried by a major station. During last season’s playoff run, Game 5 of the Isles series with Pittsburgh was carried by 98.7 ESPN New York and Game 6 was picked up by WFAN.
King takes pride in the fact that major networks are picking up the broadcasts, but he’s very quick to credit the job done by the Hofstra students who put together the broadcasts game in and game out.
“People don’t realize the work that goes on behind the scenes,” he said. “What people may not realize is that those stations are basically flipping the switch and it’s the Hofstra broadcast soup to nuts. So it’s completely engineered, produced, and done by Hofstra students the entire way. That’s the one thing I’d stress is that for the Hofstra students to have their work on a monster stage is about as big as it gets as far as radio is concerned three times now.
“It’s a great thrill for them and just to be part of that is a nice for as well.”
For King, this season has already featured some milestones before he jumps behind the mic on Wednesday. Earlier this month, King had the chance to fill in on the Islanders television broadcast while the team was in Denver and Dallas.
“Just to get a chance to do those two games was terrific,” King said with a smile. “And the best thing it was just the ending I got of both games. Michael Grabner gets a winner in Denver in overtime and then John Tavares wins it with a minute and a half to go in Dallas. I think the biggest thrill was getting two great wins and getting a chance to do TV was fun, but I think the ending made it more special.”
King later added: “Just to sit in what Jiggs [McDonald] calls ‘the big seat’ was quite a thrill.”
Much like the Islander players have pregame rituals, King has them as well. Every game day, you can find him at the rink for morning skate, talking to the players and looking over stats.
“In the middle of the day, just edit everything down audio wise, crunch all the numbers, and go back and do the game,” he said.
He will try to keep that routine as much as he can on Wednesday. King even came down to Sunday’s Ranger-Devil game to scout the broadcast location, which he called “terrific.”
The original location for the broadcast was going to be the home radio booth for the Yankees, but it has moved to the third base side.
“I think it moves us a little closer to the ice and I’m an open air guy. I need to have the feel of the game,” King said. “I did not want to have a closed window in front of me, because then you just lose that feel. You can’t really hear the crowd. You can’t really feel the game. So, I’m happy for two things, again that it’s completely open air and that they’ve swung us just a little bit closer to the ice.”
2014 has been good to King already. From TV play-by-play to calling an outdoor game, the year — so far — has been a lot of fun for the man who has watched the Islanders since he was 11-years-old.