By Peter Schwartz
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Just before Game 1 of the Islanders-Lightning series on Wednesday night, NBC Sports Network announcer Kenny Albert stepped into the visiting radio booth at Amalie Arena to see Islanders broadcaster Chris King. Albert suggested that Chris make a phone call home to Long Island.
"He said you may want to have your wife DVR our broadcast," recalled King. "I'm like 'okay why?' He said 'we're opening with your call of the Tavares double-overtime goal.'"
In a matter of days, King went from being the Islanders radio play-by-play voice that not many people outside of the New York area had ever heard of to being an instant star and a household name around the NHL.
King's call of John Tavares' series-winning goal against the Florida Panthers in the second sudden death period in game 6 was played over and over again on radio and television stations in the New York area and around North America.
Since Sunday, King has been inundated with calls, texts, and Facebook messages from people he hadn't heard from in a long time, as well as fans that he didn't know.
"It has been overwhelming, but in a really positive way," said King, who has also filled in for Howie Rose on select Islanders telecasts on MSG Plus. "It has been a whirlwind, but one that I wouldn't exchange for anything. It has been an absolute blast since Sunday night."
Chris deserves every bit of attention that he has received over the last few days. He is an Islander as much as anyone in the entire organization and has been one since the age of 11 when he started following the then-NHL expansion team in 1972.
A 1979 graduate of East Islip High School on Long Island (some former football player named Boomer Esiason was in his graduating class), King went on to study communications at SUNY Geneseo and then received a Master's degree in engineering from Binghamton University in 1985.
From 1985 to 1998, Chris worked full-time as a software engineer, but during that period he began to dabble in radio. He served as a disc jockey for WRCN and WLIR and began his professional association with the Islanders as a reporter from 1989 to 1994. In 1994, Chris became the pregame, intermission, and postgame co-host on the team's radio broadcasts.
In 1996, Islanders broadcasts moved to WLIR radio and King became the producer and engineer. Then, in 1998, Chris got his big break when he was named color analyst, a job he had for a dozen seasons before taking over as the play-by-play voice.
"I look back at the long mark of how it progressed and each step was very important in gaining experience on the broadcasts," said King, now in his sixth season as the voice of the Islanders. "I'm enjoying the play-by-play immensely. It's such a fast game that it's a challenge to get it right every night."
And his call of the Tavares double-OT goal was spot on in every way, shape and form. When the puck went in and the Islanders long drought of not winning a playoff series came to an end, Chris finished off an epic call heard throughout Islanders Country.
Without question, the biggest cheers came from his family, his wife Beth and kids Connor and Maggie. Chris, known for his genuine and emotional goal calls, always provides excitement for Islanders fans, especially his children.
"They get such a kick out of it," King said. "They can't believe how excited daddy gets."
The Tavares goal provided the defining moment of King's career to date and it captured the essence of what it meant for the organization to win a playoff series for the first time in 23 years. As part of his call, Chris included the "YES! YES! YES!" phrase that has become an Islanders tradition over the last couple of seasons.
"I thought that was an appropriate way to put a stamp on the end to the talk of 1993," said the veteran broadcaster, who is known as "Kinger" throughout the organization.
The call was exciting and historic, but the hope is there will be more to come. During the hockey offseason, King is also the radio voice for the Long Island Ducks minor league baseball team, a job he's had since the team's inception in 2000. King has been behind the microphone for three Atlantic League championships that the Ducks have won.
He'd like to replicate that experience with the Islanders.
"I'd love to be able to say 'The Islanders win the Stanley Cup,'" King said. "That would be the ultimately thrill for any broadcaster."
I think I speak for Islanders fans everywhere when I say that would be music to our ears.
For the past 27 years, King has covered the Islanders in a variety of capacities. From reporter to host to analyst to play-by-play voice, Chris has been a true professional with his work ethic, attention to detail, and the excitement he brings to each broadcast.
There are also two other things that you have to like about Chris. He bleeds orange and blue and he's a good guy.
Lifestyle Authentic is having an Islanders viewing party for Game 2 against the Lightning on Saturday afternoon at The Green Turtle in East Meadow on Long Island. There could be a special guest at the party, so make sure to follow @LifestyleAuthen on Twitter for updates.
You can also enter Lifestyle's contest to win an Islanders man cave. Click here for details.
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