BACK IN A NICK OF TIME
The Bangles were “Walking Like an Egyptian,” Bon Jovi was “Giving Love a Bad Name,’’ “Top Gun” and “Crocodile Dundee” ruled the box office, while “Cheers,” “Night Court,” “Growing Pains” and “The Golden Girls” were still popular television programs.
In the news, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, the Soviet Union acknowledged that there was an accident at Chernobyl and something called Atari was still popular.
In the world of sports, Jose Canseco and Lawrence Taylor were reigning MVPs, Bill Buckner became infamous for his error in game six of the World Series, the Bears were doing the Super Bowl shuffle, Bird’s Celtics were a good basketball team still and the Montreal Canadiens skated with the Stanley Cup.
Ironically the 1986 NHL rookie of the year was former Philadelphia Flyer netminder and current Kings Assistant General Manager Ron Hextall, and, oh yeah, Kings rookie sensation Anze Kopitar was not even born yet. (Aug. 4, 1987).
And up until the last 10 games of 2006-07, nineteen hundred and eighty-six was also the last time that Radio Broadcaster Nick Nickson missed a Kings hockey game.
“I guess you could say, quote unquote, the streak is over, but big deal,” Nickson said this summer from his home. “The streak meant nothing to me, it was great while it lasted.
“I just feel badly that I was not there and that I inconvenienced the Kings.”
Back in ’86, the radio ‘Voice of the Kings’ missed Los Angeles’ 3-2 overtime win at Montreal on Feb. 17, 1986, and the Crownshirts’ 5-4 win over Quebec the next night due to the birth of his second son, Timothy.
The next game that he would miss would be March 18, 2007, a streak that lasted 21 years and 28 days, calling the action of 1,612 consecutive regular season and playoff games, before having to miss a game due to a back injury.
“I had to shut it down for a while,” he said. “Your body is telling you that you are down for a while. My back was keeping me up at night and I was not getting enough sleep and I was exhausted and fatigued.
“I called the Kings and told them I was not going to make it for that Anaheim game.”
So Kings Communications Manager and former Manchester Monarch radio broadcaster Mike Kalinowski teamed with Kings Radio Analyst Daryl Evans to broadcast the Kings 5-3 win over the Ducks.
Evans, who has teamed with Nickson on the club’s radio broadcasts for the past eight seasons providing the color commentary, had this to say about the episode in which he handled play-by-play duties:
“The key thing behind it all was the help we got from Nick in those first couple of games allowing us to make that transition as smoothly as possible. Nick's help was big.
“[Doing play-by-play] was a great experience and something that I really enjoyed. Mike did a great job jumping in with a lot of great information and was great with his research. I think we learned a lot of things together. ”
Nickson would miss the last 10 games of the season as the Kalinowski/Evans duo proficiently completed the season. For those of you stat geeks out there, the Kings are 5-7-0 in the 12 games that Nickson has missed over the last 21 years.
Even Kings Hall-of-Fame television broadcaster Bob Miller pitched in, calling the radio action on March 23, when the Kings faced the Chicago Blackhawks. Miller, of course, did a simulcast on TV and radio for his first 16 years with the organization.
But Nickson is ready to return to the microphone at the start of the 2007-08 season doing the job that he loves.
“If it is something you really like doing, then why not do it as long as you can.”
Nickson returned to the public eye at the Kings Draft Party last Friday, conducting interviews of several Kings players and fans alike at the Highlands.
“When you work with someone as long as Nick and I have, you get to know them and know their tendencies and when they are going in and out and off the air, ” Evans said.
“Nick and I have a really good chemistry, he is one of the best in the business and I am very fortunate to work with a guy like that. ”