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Jiggs McDonald Hits 50 Years of NHL Play-By-Play

Hall of Fame broadcaster to call Islanders-Panthers game on Wednesday

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

To put Jiggs McDonald's 50-year career in perspective, remember that he debuted in the NHL before the New York Islanders. 

McDonald, the longtime play-by-play voice of the Islanders and Hockey Hall of Famer, will call Wednesday's Islanders-Florida Panthers game, officially reaching 50 years of calling NHL games. 

"It's something that I never thought would happen," said McDonald, who will drop the ceremonial first puck Wednesday before tagging out Brendan Burke in the booth. "I was flattered, kind of stunned. It means a lot."

McDonald's illustrious career spans six decades, from joining the expansion LA Kings in 1967, to spending 15 years (1980-95) with the Islanders, to stops in Atlanta and Florida and backup roles with the Isles. He's also calling the Feb. 9 LA Kings-Panthers game to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the Kings. 

Video: FLA@NYI: Isles celebrate Jiggs McDonald's 50 years

Just from his Islanders days alone, there are too many moments to rank, from calling three of the four Stanley Cups championships, to the 1987 Easter Epic, to the 1993 underdog run to the conference finals. 

"That's like saying which one of your two girls do you like the best," Jiggs joked.

Those are top-tier moments for McDonald, but what really stands out are the people he's met along the way. 

"I reflect on the people I've met; some of the best people in the world are involved in this sport, that's what makes this game so great," McDonald said. 

People like Eddie Westfall, who spent 15 years alongside Jiggs in the booth after advocating to bring him to Long Island. McDonald knew Westfall's family, so it was a much appreciated gesture for the former Islanders' captain-turned commentator to vouch for him. McDonald said they had a tremendous relationship and a lot of magic moments on TV together. 

 McDonald thanked all the athletic trainers and equipment managers over the years for their friendship and information, tidbits about equipment changes that added to the authenticity of his broadcasts. Most of all, McDonald wanted to thank the fans. 

"I've said forever that I took paychecks from the Islanders or SportsChannel, Cablevision or MSG Network or wherever I worked, but really I was hired by the fans," he said. "If what I was doing didn't sit right with the fans, then I would be gone. It's the fans that paid me. They made it all happen for me."

The Hockey Hall of Fame awarded McDonald the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award - given to the broadcaster who makes an outstanding contribution to their profession and the game - in 1990, 33 years into his broadcasting career. Seventeen years later he's still at it - totaling an impressive 50. 

"I've enjoyed the game and enjoyed the people tremendously," he said. "And like I said from the very outset, it's the people in the game that make the game as good as it is.

Read Brendan Burke's Tribute to Jiggs McDonald

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