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 HHOF award, joining Bob Miller and Jiggs McDonald. Miller – in his 43rd season with the Kings – penned this story for LAKings.com in honor of his friend and colleague, Nick Nickson.
My heartfelt congratulations to Los Angeles Kings radio play by play announcer Nick Nickson on being awarded the Foster Hewitt Award for his outstanding contributions and excellence in hockey broadcasting as presented by the NHL Professional Broadcasters Association. A plaque, with Nick’s likeness etched on it, will forever be on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The year was 1981and my Kings broadcast partner, Pete Weber, accepted a position with the Seattle Supersonics of the National Basketball Association. It was at mid-season so I was scrambling to find a new partner. The LA Kings head coach at the time, Parker MacDonald, had been the coach of the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the New Haven Nighthawks, and he said to me, “I know Nick Nickson, the Nighthawks play by play announcer. He does an excellent job, is a fun guy to be around and I think you two will get along and work well together.”
I had not met Nick and my only reservation was that this was a “color commentator” position and I thought Nick would probably wish to stay with play by play. I phoned Nick, told him about the job and explained it wasn’t a play by play position but Nick said he was still interested. Nick then sent me tapes of his work. I liked the tapes and offered him the job. Nick had to temporarily leave his wife, Carolyn, and infant son, Nicholas, back in Connecticut and head west to join the Kings.
MacDonald was right. Nick is an excellent hockey announcer and we got along extremely well. That is very important because we almost spend more time together, at home and on the road during the season, than we do with our families.
Nick and I had a lot of fun working together for nine years. We had the same interests away from the game -- especially movies. We went to see so many movies together on the road one of our TV producers came up with an idea for an intermission TV feature called, ‘Bob and Nick At The Flicks.’ We would rate movies we had seen but a movie clip we would show would be the same film each time, a black and white clip from a 1930s film. That feature became such a hit that so years later Kings fans still tell us how much they enjoyed Bob and Nick At The Flicks.’
Off-ice entertainment aside, Nick works diligently at preparing for each broadcast. He paid his dues by starting out doing hockey at Ithaca College while a student there, and then Minor League hockey in Rochester, N.Y. and, of course, in New Haven, CT.
With the Kings we did a “simulcast,” meaning radio and TV at the same time. Nick did most of the player interviews and always made them interesting and entertaining. The best moments we had working together would have been the “Miracle on Manchester” game against the Edmonton Oilers in 1982 when the Kings came back from trailing 5-0 at the end of two periods to score five goals in the third and win the game in overtime. The Kings then went on to eliminate the heavily favored Oilers in the deciding fifth game.
We were also fortunate to be able to televise the night Wayne Gretzky became the all-time leading scorer in NHL history in 1989 while playing for the Kings against the Oilers in Edmonton.
In 1990, the decision was made to eliminate the simulcasts and split us up. Nick went to Radio and I went to TV.
The 2015-16 season is Nick’s 35th with the Kings. He is a storehouse of Kings history, helps in writing and editing the Kings annual Media Guide while also proving unique content for the new LA Kings Edition, and does a lengthy post game talk show called “Kings Talk” taking calls from hockey fans.
Nick’s attention to detail in preparation and his outstanding and exciting play by play are hallmarks of his Kings broadcasts.
He is extremely deserving of this recognition from the Hockey Hall of Fame.