It’s the midway point of the season and usually games in January and February start running together. The road takes over, and the next thing you know, someone asks who you played yesterday and you have to stop and think about the answer.
But on Wednesday, January 11, I was thrilled to watch and listen to what could’ve been one of the more boring games of the year. Seriously, the first game of the home-and-home against the Panthers could have been like watching paint dry. Back and forth, back and forth.
But instead, I had a familiar and jovial voice in my head. Jiggs McDonald. It was a wonderful night to honor Jiggs, who has now broadcasted games in the NHL for 50 years. The fans at home got to see him take the ice, send love to the fans in the stands and smile with John Tavares while he accepted a bronze microphone and a jersey.
But I feel beyond lucky because I get to see and talk with Jiggs when the cameras aren’t rolling. It was a night all about him and yet, in our production meeting, he sat in the back of the room. He never tries to steal the spotlight or command attention. He smiles and jokes with Stan Fischler and simply because Jiggs is Jiggs, everyone wants to be around him.
Our post game show usually doesn’t wrap up until a half an hour or so after the game is over. By then, the arena is usually almost empty. But while I was collecting my things and the crew was breaking down the set, Jiggs was standing there waiting to give me a hug and chat about the game.
I’ve only known Jiggs for three short years and I’m sure other people feel more connected to him after decades of hockey together. But over our short friendship, Jiggs has made me a better broadcaster. He’s a reminder that when you stay true to yourself and always treat others with kindness, good things happen.
Just having one game with Jiggs made the week a good one in my mind.
HATS OFF TO JT
John Tavares’s hat trick on Friday was the icing on the cake. I do feel as if I’m a little spoiled because I watch Tavares play every other night. When you see talent like that, night-in and night-out, you sometimes forget just how special he is. It was really exciting watching him break through that 500-point milestone against the Panthers in Florida. It seemed only fitting his 500th point came in the middle of his 6th career hat trick.
From interviewing Tavares countless times, I can tell you he’s the ultimate team player. He scored a hat trick and still wasn’t satisfied with the game because the power play didn’t convert. The very next night, it appeared he had two goals in the first period and could be the first Islanders player to record two consecutive hat tricks since 1996. I asked the captain if the second goal was his before our second intermission interview. He looked me straight in the eye half out of breath and said: “No, it didn’t touch me. It’s not mine.”
The scoring had already been changed a few times and fans in the arena, and at home, were pulling for another hat trick. There was even confusion when he netted the first goal of the third period. But I knew that Tavares would make sure the scoring was correct and Anders Lee was given the goal he deserved.
Tavares isn’t just a team player. He’s honorable and would never take credit for something he didn’t earn. Tavares is going to be in the spotlight for the rest of his career. The question on many people’s minds is: will that be with the Islanders?
As someone who has the pleasure of working with him every day, I sure hope so. Not just for the goals he scores, but the class and leadership he brings to this team.