Nick Nickson, the radio “Voice of the Kings,” on Monday (November 9) is being honored with the Foster Hewitt Award (for outstanding contributions to broadcasting) in Toronto as part of the Hockey Hall of Fame's Induction Weekend.
Nickson, who is in his 35th year with the team, will also be honored at STAPLES Center before the Kings-Coyotes game as part of our popular Legends Night Series presented by McDonald’s.
Nickson is one of three Kings broadcasters to be so honored with the award, joining Bob Miller and Jiggs McDonald. McDonald – the original voice of the Kings dating back to 1967 who still calls games periodically for the New York Islanders – penned this story for LAKings.com in honor of Nick.
When I hear the song, Danny Boy, somehow I think immediately of this year's recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial award, Nick Nickson.
Why? The Pipes. The Pipes are calling. Those amazing pipes possessed by Nick are among the best in the play-by-play business no matter the sport.
I admit that shouldn't be the major factor in honoring Nick like this. It's just the initial impact made when one tunes in a Los Angeles Kings radio broadcast. Then you recognize the wealth of knowledge he possesses and how easily he weaves that into his description of the play happening on the ice below.
Southern California hockey fans have been spoiled with Nick's talents. His ability to bring the game from the ice to your ears is exceptional. In a market place where millions of cars are traveling the freeways while the Kings are playing, it's a certainty that a large percentage of those car radios are tuned to the game, whether it's being played in another time zone or right there at the STAPLES Center.
Nick achieves the criteria Jack Kent Cooke set out for me as the first Kings play-by-play announcer back in 1967. He might even take it to another level. Being able to picture the play in his mind, as well as knowing who was on the ice at all times, was Mr. Cooke's demand. Demands that are certainly met by Nick.
His love of the game, his knowledge of the game and his wealth of knowledge of the LA Kings History is presented to the listener in a manner that soon makes that person a fan of the game and the Kings.
The Foster Hewitt Memorial Award and recognition by the Hockey Hall of Fame features an elite selection committee. His peers in the broadcast business, all of them past winners of the award, ponder the quality of the nominee’s work as well as his longevity in the business. Nick is long overdue this honor. His work has set the bar for any young broadcaster hoping to reach this level in the future.
I think back to a conversation with Vin Scully at Dodger Stadium when I first met him back in 1968. My question centered around job description, what were we hoping to achieve while on the air. Vin's response was something I'll never forget. “I feel that I am picking up the fan at home, bringing him or her to Dodger Stadium, entertaining them and then sending them on their way,” said Scully. Nick does all of that and more.
One of the finest hockey play-by-play men ever was Danny Gallivan who did the Montreal Canadiens games as well as Hockey Night in Canada games during his illustrious career. Danny offered me this advice during my first season of broadcasting NHL games. “Never lose sight of the fact that it takes two teams to play the game.” Nick's sight of the game has always been true.
As a past winner of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, I'm well aware of the incredible feeling Nick must have had when he received the phone call telling him of his selection and I'm thrilled that this fine gentleman joins the former winners, a select group of hockey broadcasters and all of us welcome him with open arms.
Here's hoping ... The Pipes, The Pipes of Nick Nickson will continue to call out to hockey fans for many more years!