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Wednesday, May 18, 2016
The Skinny on Howie Rose
The announcement came late this afternoon that after 21
years (20 of which the Islanders actually played), Howie Rose was leaving his
position as the television play-by-play voice of the Isles.
I first met Howie in the Coliseum press box when I was just
18 years old, although I had heard his voice for years via SportsPhone (Kids,
ask your parents). We first worked
together on an Islander – Ranger preseason game for SportsChannel on October 2, 1995. Ed Westfall was his partner for the first
three seasons; Joe Micheletti, Billy Jaffe, and Butch Goring would follow. Each of his partners benefited from Howie’s ability to set up their analysis; viewers
might not always notice it, but I certainly did.
(L-R) Howie, me, Butch after Isles eliminated Florida
Howie was 18 when the Isles played their first game and in
part because of that, and the Islanders’ willingness to credential him at a
young age, he has a great memory of some of the early days in Islander history (I
was only 8, so many of my “memories” of the first two seasons come from research).
I always felt that Howie was under-appreciated by a certain
segment of the team’s fan base. Part of
it had to do with his previous experience with the Rangers, part of it was
because he replaced Jiggs McDonald, but perhaps the bigger part had nothing to do
with Howie at all – he broadcast a team that for many of those years just wasn’t
(L-R) Jiggs, me, Howie on Ed Westfall Night in 2011
The Islanders played over 1,650 regular season and
post-season games in the years that Howie called their games; he called three
remarkable Islander overtime wins in his last eight days on the job. They were the only Islander playoff overtime
goals he ever called (Doc Emrick called John Tavares’ OT winner last
season). When Tavares’ goal in game six ended
the Islanders 23-year playoff series drought, other than my kids, I was happiest for Howie
finally getting the chance to call it.
Among the things I’ll remember most were some of his great
on-the-fly commentaries, from “housebound agraphobe” to “Nassau County aspiring
to be minor league”. They were direct,
and right on point.
Over the past 34 years, I’ve often said I’ve had the best seat
in the house – for the last 21 years that seat was directly to the left of Howie
Rose, who has called the play-by-play of more Islander games than anyone else. Whoever takes his seat in October will have
big shoes to fill.
Getting to the Hall of Fame in one sport is nearly
impossible, the odds of getting there in two sports are nearly incalculable
(even by an actuary). Here’s hoping to
Howie one day being honored with both a Foster Hewitt Memorial Award and a Ford
C. Frick Award.
Best wishes to Howie and Barbara, and to Alyssa and
Chelsea. That’s one great run that we
can now Put (It) In The Books!