By: John Santamaria
Edited By: Julia Giammona
For the past two decades, New York Islander fans tuned into the television broadcast and heard the longtime play-by-play voice of Howie Rose each and every game. He has become a fixture into many lives of New Yorker’s and fans of the team, but after 21 seasons as the television voice, it was announced last week that Rose decided to step down from his position.
The decision was made as he is looking for a reduced work schedule. Rose is also the radio voice of the New York Mets on WOR 710AM during the baseball season. Both of these positions leave him no off season and as he told numerous reporters he was looking to scale back on the workload.
Rose joined the Islanders in the 1994-1995 season following another legend, Jiggs McDonald, who has returned in recent years for fill in duties. His partners over the 21 seasons included the first captain in Islanders history Ed Westfall, Joe Micheletti, Billy Jaffe, and his most recent partner from the cup winning teams Butch Goring.
For me Howie Rose is much more than a presence on television and radio calling games, he is a broadcasting idol to me in many ways.
Having grown up a huge sports fan and wanting to pursue a career in this competitive business, I watched many announcers call games, listen to their styles and learned from each one. I have and still do practice calling games on my Xbox system when I play the various sports games that are made for the consoles. Howie Rose has stood out the most to me because of the way he calls a game and how professional he is each night on the broadcast.
I had the opportunity to meet Rose a few times and the first will always be memorable as it was in Nassau Coliseum’s press box in 2002 when I was 11. My dad arranged for me to visit the Islanders television team to see the booth and meet Howie Rose and then partner Joe Micheletti. Seeing the booth and how he works made me believe that this can one day happen for me. That moment was remarkable and how friendly he and Joe were to me was something I will never forget.
I got to see Howie Rose again over the years at other Islanders occasions when I was in the press box as an intern for SportsNet New York in 2013 and always had great conversations with him about the business.
Howie Rose had a lot of memorable moments at the microphone over the past 21 years as the voice of the Islanders, but these 5 moments stand out to me as the ones I will always look back on…
5) Wade Dubielewicz Easter Epic II at the Meadowlands: April 8th2007
It was Easter Sunday and a victory was needed to send the Islanders to the postseason. They didn’t have starter Rick DiPietro available so it was up to backup Wade Dubielewicz to help secure a postseason spot for the blue and orange. This took place on the final day of the regular season at the Continental Airlines Arena against the New Jersey Devils. This game has been later referred to as Easter Epic II based off a 4 OT playoff game in 1988.
4) Shawn Bates Penalty Shot at Nassau Coliseum: April 24, 2002
I was not watching this game on television as I was in attendance at the Game 4 Stanley Cup Playoff series in 2002 rocking the old barn Nassau Coliseum. Many years later I went back and listened to Howie make the call of the famous Shawn Bates penalty shot. This is as classic of a call you can get from him and an iconic moment in franchise history.
3) Storytelling: All throughout his career
One video won’t summarize this moment so search through archives if you want to hear more of this moment. Whether it is on Mets radio or Islanders TV, one of my favorite Howie Rose moments will always be his storytelling. His novel, “Put It In The Book” was a great overall archive of that and learning more about him and breaking into this competitive business. I attended the book signing in 2013 when he released this at Barnes and Noble in Garden City and it was a great night of hearing about his career.
On the broadcast you always got a good story from him about memorable moments in the game of hockey or baseball. Any night when the Islanders had the legendary players visit the booth or a milestone event took place, I always enjoyed listening to him reminisce about those memories. One of my favorite games to watch in this regard was the night Al Arbour came back to coach his 1500th game in 2007.
2.) JohnTavares keeps Islanders alive in Game 6 vs. Panthers: April 24, 2016
The Islanders were looking to do something that they haven’t done in more than two decades this spring, which is win a playoff series. In Game 6 at Barclays Center, trailing 1-0 throughout the whole game, the Islanders were looking to avoid playing a Game 7 for a second consecutive season in Round 1 of the playoffs. Head Coach Jack Capuano pulls goaltender Thomas Griess to give the team a 6 on 5 man advantage looking to tie the game. Shot after shot came but nothing got past Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. It was the final minute and no one other than the captain John Tavares snuck one past Luongo and in the net to tie the game and send it to overtime for the 3rd time in this series.
1.) Tavares sends the Islanders to the 2ndround of the playoffs: April 24, 2016
In what was his final game at the call for the team, a memorable way to end his time with the Islanders when once again John Tavares concluded his memorable performance in the Game 6 series clincher against the Panthers. It was that first the goal that tied the game to keep Game 6 alive and then it took through Double OT for the second time in this series. This time it secured a playoff series victory for the first time in 23 years. Howie Rose told the Islanders website, “You can’t script it any better than that. It was the perfect way for me to go out.”
As far as the future for the Islanders television broadcast team, a search has begun to fill the vacant position. The candidates for the vacant play-by-play job will include the team’s longtime radio voice Chris King. In addition to King other names that could be considered are Rangers radio play-by-play announcer and NBC Sports Network’s Kenny Albert, NHL Network’s Steve Mears who worked on the radio side doing play-by-play for the Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Gary Thorne who was the voice of the NHL when ESPN had the package. Other names could emerge into the search from the hockey community as well.
One thing I hope doesn’t change is the few voice appearances of Jiggs McDonald throughout the season. It is always a treat to listen to Jiggs call a game and hear stories about the dynasty years of the Islanders cup teams.
I end this piece by saying Thank You Howie Rose for 21 memorable years as the voice of the Islanders and for being my broadcasting idol as a true professional in this business. I look forward to hearing you call many more Mets games in the coming years. I hope to hear online soon that the Islanders plan to celebrate the career of Howie Rose with the team and that will be the first game circled on my calendar to attend next season.