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Letters From Hockey Drive: Nick Nickson

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Dear Reader:

“The long wait is over. After 45 years the Kings can wear their crown.

“The Los Angeles Kings have won the Stanley Cup.”

That was the call that Rochester, NY native Nick Nickson had always dreamed of making in his sports broadcasting career. He finally got to make that call on the evening of June 11, 2012 when the Kings finally won the Cup

“It really was a dream come true,” recalled Nickson.

A dream that began for Nickson 37 years earlier in Rochester as the play-by-play voice of the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League for the 1975-76 season. In 1977 he moved on to the New Haven Nighthawks where he would spend four seasons.

In 1981 Nickson moved from the east coast to the west and joined the Kings. Thirty-six seasons later the Rochester native is still the radio voice of the Kings.

“I grew up in a broadcasting family,” recalled Nickson. “My dad was in radio for 60 years, 20 of them as a broadcaster and the 40 in management.

“But even though I grew up with broadcasting around me, when I went to Ithaca College, I really didn’t know for sure what I wanted to do as a freshman. As it turned out I became a Communications major.

“The great thing about Ithaca College was that you could go on the air immediately as a freshman at the college’s radio station, which is what I did. I wanted to be a disc jockey.

“But I also began handling sports. A spot opened up with the Amerks and I sent a tape to them.

“I actually took the only tape I had of a hockey game I had done at Ithaca. I thought it was awful.

“I worked all night and cut out all the bad parts, spliced it together and sent it to the Amerks. They asked me to go on a road trip with them and do a couple of those games.

“I guess they liked what they heard. They hired me and here I am still doing hockey on radio.”

Following his move to L.A. Nickson was teamed up with veteran broadcaster, Bob Miller. They broadcast games on the radio as well as simulcast those games on television.

Then came the summer of 1988 and the trade of Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers to the Kings.

“That trade put L.A. on the hockey map,” stated Nickson, who grew up in Brighton, near Rochester, and attended Penfield High School. “We quit doing the simulcast and had separate TV and radio broadcasts.”

Nickson is now in his 37th season as a broadcaster with the Kings.

As a tribute to his broadcasting excellence, Nickson was inducted into the Southern California Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Frontier Field Walk of Fame (media) in Rochester and had the broadcast center in STAPLES Center renamed the Nick Nickson Broadcast Center in his honor. His highest honor came in 2015 when Nickson received the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. He was the third Kings broadcaster to be inducted into the Hall behind Jiggs McDonald and Miller.

Add to that not one, but two, Stanley Cup calls with the Kings.

“The best part of me is that I was there to describe it to our faithful listeners,” concluded Nickson. “I was glad to be a part of it.”

Until Next Time,

Randy Schultz

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