Former Islanders Play By Play Broadcaster Jiggs McDonald Took the Art to Its Highest Level

Jiggs McDonald is the hockey play-by-play man’s play-by-play man.

Please, don’t quarrel with me; I know!

Having worked alongside “John Kenneth” — his real name — for fifteen years, I can assure you that if Jiggs didn’t invent the art of NHL play-by-play it sure sounded as if he did.

New York Islanders fans who remember as far back as 1980, when McDonald invaded Uniondale, know what The Maven means… So do ex-Islanders such as former goalie Glenn (Chico) Resch.

“While Jiggs didn’t invent the art of calling a game,” Resch explained, “he certainly lifted his craft to a new, higher level.”

McDonald honed his NHL warbling to sharpness as the original Los Angeles Kings version of a hockey auctioneer in 1967 with the first NHL expansion.

former islanders play by play broadcaster jiggs mcdonald took the art to its highest level

Jiggs with Gordon Lightfoot and the Stanley Cup

His boss, owner Jack Kent Cooke, insisted that his new ice-talker delete Ken from his name and pick something more original — more catchy! Having grown up reading the then famed comic strip, “Bringing Up Father,” our man chose Jiggs from the strip. He was the henpecked husband of the strip’s Maggie.

At first the nickname, Jiggs, felt strange to the former Kenneth but he got over it because fans loved it as much as they admired his impeccable puck-calling.

When the Atlanta Flames made their NHL debut in 1972, the Jigger was hired by g.,m. Cliff Fletcher. McDonald’s sidekick was Hall of Famer Boom Boom Geoffrion. And what a pair they were.

“The two of them were like the Abbott and Costello of hockey broadcasting” said hockey author Alan Greenberg. “They helped sell the NHL to the Southland.”

No doubt they could have owned the gig forever but when the Flames did an orderly retreat to Calgary, Jiggs said nix to that and wound up with us on Long Island. He succeeded Steve Albert behind the Isles mike and teamed with Isles legend Ed (#18) Westfall.

If Easy Ed was the violin, Jiggs was the bow and they made beautiful music together. Over the decades there never has been a better one-two combo on an NHL screen, and one especially beloved by fans of the Blue and Orange.

From a purely technical viewpoint, McDonald was as good as anyone before or since and better than most. Veteran tv critic Gus Vic put it this way:

“In an era when too many play by play folks are caught up in shtick or decibel level, Jiggs has always been able to hit the sweet spot in all aspects of calling a game. Gifted with excellent pipes, Jiggs on camera presence has long exuded credibility with his knowledge of the NHL as well as providing his audience with the ‘big game feel.’

“It’s the pureness of his call which most resonates Jiggs’ cadence and command of hockey parlance have long worked in perfect harmony; his crescendo building at only the most appropriate moments in calling a play close to the net or on a resounding open ice hit.”

Jiggs sense of humor and humility always impressed me. Try this on for size:

“While I took paychecks from SportsChannel and MSG,” said Jiggs, “I always felt that I was hired by the fans. I knew that if what I was doing didn’t sit right with the fans, then I’d be gone. It was the fans who ‘paid’ me.”

Interestingly, long after Jiggs retired from full-time work, he was brought back to the island to pinch hit for Howie Rose for some games and, more recently, Brendan Burke.

All in all, McDonald’s hockey-calling spans seven decades which is only one of many reasons why he won the Foster Hewitt award in 1990 for excellence at his job. Jerry Passaro, Jiggs’ producer-boss at SportsChannel, explained:

Passaro: “Jiggs was one of the top hockey announcers of his time. He had all the tools for play by play greatness. He was a student of the game and had relationships throughout the league. What’s more, he developed a good chemistry with his broadcast partners. On top of that, Jiggs had a terrific call of the game that set a standard that many followed.”

I love the guy and not because both of us have been mistaken for the fisherman who appears on the club’s alternate uniform!

With our eternal friendship in mind, I decided to get in touch with Jiggs and toss a few topics at him. McDonald’s replies follow:


“The great Danny Gallivan, who broadcast Canadiens games, among others, was a big influence as well as Norm Marshall who was with CHML in Hamilton and did the Junior games. I thought he was the person I’d most like to sound like. Overall, I probably married some of Danny and Norm along with that of the great Foster Hewitt who created hockey play by play as far back as the 1920’s. I coupled them all into what became my cadence. The thing that was so special about Foster Hewitt was his voice. It cut through the crowd noise and exuded excitement leading up to scoring opportunities.”


” Like every kid growing up in Ontario, I was a Maple Leafs fan. That is, until we got a tv set. It was then that I realized that the Lears weren’t the best. One of my favorites was their captain,(Hall of Famer) Ted Kennedy. In addition, I’d also listen to Rex Stimers doing the St.Catherines Teepees of the Ontario Hockey

Association’s Junior A Division. Several of their players graduated to the Chicago Black Hawks. Players such as Chico Maki, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Pat Stapleton, among others. They inspired me to become a Black Hawks fan.”


“When the NHL expanded from six to twelve teams in 1967 that created broadcasting opportunities. That said, at first I didn’t really think about the NHL. My feeling was that I might be able to replace someone in the minors who was moving up to one of the new NHL teams. I was thinking about farm teams in either the American Hockey League or the International Hockey League.”


“I kiddingly say that Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke hired me because I’d work cheap. And, come to think of it, I did! The fact is that I only applied to one expansion team and that was because I had known about Cooke from my Ontario home. I was aware of his history of success with radio stations as well as his Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team in the International League. He had already proven to be a successful sports mogul in Canada and I felt he’d be the same at the NHL level.”


“My original Kings contract was for five years. When we began negotiating a new contract Cooke’s offer was short of my expectations, so I resigned and wound up getting a job in Atlanta with the Flames and did eight seasons with them. But when the Flames were sold to Calgary interests I was told up front from the new ownership they had no interest in moving a broadcaster to Calgary. In fact, I was told that announcers were a dime a dozen. Okay!”


“As president of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association, I presented the coach of the year award to Pat Quinn of the Flyers. The luncheon was on Long Island and it was there that I was approached about doing Islanders telecasts. It turned out that the previous Islanders play-by-play guy, Steve Albert, was moving on to take a baseball broadcasting job. The Islanders job now was open but I also had calls from two other teams and had placed a call to a third. But my decision to work on the Island was easy. I mean how do I not give consideration to a team that had just won the (1980) Stanley Cup!”


“Steve Albert had been doing the (SportsChannel) cable tv load while Tim Ryan was handling the over the air WOR-Tv and would continue to do so. Bob Lawrence was doing radio. The way it worked out was that I’d do cable games and I’d do radio on the games that Tim was doing. As it happened, Tim’s workload at CBS Sports increased that first year and I probably did ten over the air games on WOR-TV as well.”


“Fitting in went very smoothly for me. What made it easier is that I knew Islanders people from previous years. For example, I knew Billy Smith and Butch Goring from our days together with the Kings. As for Bill Torrey, he had been an executive with Charlie Finley’s Oakland Seals NHL club during that time as well and had always been friendly with me. On top of that, I knew Al Arbour who previously had worked for the Flames prior to becoming Islanders coach. As well, I already had a friendship with Islanders trainers Ron Waske and Jim Pickard”


“I couldn’t have picked a better partner in the tv booth than ‘Eighteen.’

I like to think that we clicked immediately. I had previously known members of Eddie’s family. His brother, George, had played Intermediate and Senior hockey on teams in the same league in which I had been working. Another of Ed’s brothers, Stan, had refereed in Ontario leagues. I’d met the parents as well.

Looking backward, I’d say that Ed and I just seemed to mesh with ease.”


“Right from training camp I recognized just how business-like this franchise was. Sure there was time for fun, but everything was geared toward making the playoffs and being in the best of condition for games in April and May. Examining the way Torrey and Arbour had constructed the team, it went

something like this. Their Islanders let the opposition set the style of play and then would go about beating them. It didn’t matter whether it was a speed game or a skill game or a physical game. It simply didn’t matter; they would adjust to any kind of game.”


“Picking favorites is roughly equivalent to someone asking me, ‘Which of your two girls do you like the best?’ When I think about my years doing the Islanders games, so many episodes come to mind. Here are some off the top of my head:

1. The playoffs of 1982, especially the opening round against Pittsburgh and the Islanders overcoming a 3-1 Pitt lead in the decisive game, sending it to overrtime. First Smitty stops hard-shooting Mike Bullard of the Penguins and then John Tonelli scored the winner. When I think back to that game, I realize that The Cup run came close to ending at two..

2. The third Cup was won in Vancouver. I’ll never forget the flight home on the charter that night. Seeing each member of the team getting his time alone with the Cup on the plane. Seeing the emotions flow spoke volumes as to how

each guy loved this game and how the rewards came with winning.

3. The 1983 Cup win over Edmonton was at home. My mother was at the game as well as my great friend, Gordon Lightfoot. They got to enjoy all the post-game celebrations. Gord was in the dressing room with me post-game. I don’t think we got home til just before 6 a.m. and Mom was still ready to celebrate.

4. The Easter Epic or marathon game against the Capitals in Landover, Maryland. Four overtimes before Pat LaFontaine got the winner. Kelly Hrudey played the greatest game of his life in goal, winning the Game Seven.

5. Upsetting the Penguins in the seventh game of the 1993 playoff. That was the year when Mario Lemieux’s club was going for their third straight Cup. We beat them in overtime on Ray Ferraro’s pass to David Volek who beat Tom Barrasso.

6. So many big wins against the Rangers stand out. I’ll never forget the playoff game when Bob Bourne wound up behind his net and went through the entire Rangers team to score. Or, the deciding playoff game in 1984 when Kenny Morrow beat the Rangers Glen Hanlon for the winner.


“I watch as many games as I can; or I’m listening on the radio if I happen to be in my car. Being a play by play critic, I enjoy Brendan Burke’s work and Butch Goring’s insights. Also on radio, Chris King’s enthusiasm and call is infectious.


“UBS Arena was long overdue. Now that it’s a reality, the players have

everything they could possibly need, including a dedicated ownership, it’s a huge plus. The ownership is dedicated not just to be competitive but to winning the Stanley Cup. I see the core of the Islanders — with an injection of youth, speed and scoring — as a team that will be fun to watch over the next several seasons.”

News Related


Hamleys reveals its top 10 toys for Christmas — and it's another win for Barbie

Holidays are coming and Hamleys is ready… (Picture: PA) The world’s oldest toy store, Hamleys, has unveiled it’s top 10 toys for Christmas 2023. Each year, expert buyers from the ... Read more »

Previewing the 2023-24 free-agent class: Designated hitter

Shohei Ohtani Over the past week, we’ve gone around the diamond with looks at the upcoming free agent class. We round out the offensive players with a look at the ... Read more »

Andretti handed major FIA boost in battle to join F1 grid – report

Andretti-Cadillac are reportedly the final remaining contender to join the Formula 1 grid, with governing body the FIA having thrown out three further applications. While existing teams are far from ... Read more »

Canadian union Unifor says Ford offers wage increases of 10% for first year

FILE PHOTO: Frankfurt hosts the international Motor Show (IAA) (Reuters) – Ford Motor offered a 10% wage increase for the first year followed by increases of 2% and 3% through ... Read more »

'I have to relive that every time I drive by': First responders push for change

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article contains graphic content that some readers may find disturbing. Public-area memorials leave a lasting impact on the mental health of local paramedics and other first responders, ... Read more »

What channel is Ole Miss vs. Alabama on today? Time, TV schedule for Week 4 college football game

What channel is Ole Miss vs. Alabama on today? Time, TV schedule for Week 4 college football game Jimbo Fisher, Kirby Smart and Steve Sarkisian have broken the curse of ... Read more »

I Decorated My Home With Dollarama Fall Products & Everything Was Cheaper Than $25 (PHOTOS)

I decorated my home with fall-themed items from Dollarama this year and to my surprise, it actually looks pretty good! Plus, everything was less than $25 which goes to show ... Read more »

Europe stays close after splitting foursome matches against United States in Solheim Cup

CASARES, Spain (AP) — Swedish rookies Maja Stark and Linn Grant kept it close for Europe at the Solheim Cup on Saturday, making crucial birdie putts on their final two ... Read more »

YOU SAID IT: Grocers right to push back

A full shopping cart in a grocery store. GROCERS RIGHT TO PUSH BACK Re: Trudeau calls on major grocers to stabilize food prices, drawing industry pushback, online, Sept. 14 Kudos ... Read more »

Even China's 1.4 billion population can't fill all its vacant homes - former official

Aerial view shows unfinished residential buildings in Tongchuan BEIJING (Reuters) – Even China’s population of 1.4 billion would not be enough to fill all the empty apartments littered across the ... Read more »

I Take 3-day Trips With Only a Backpack — Here's Exactly How I Pack

How a professional travel writer packs for three-day trips with only a backpack. Getty Images Long-weekend getaways are the gift that keeps on giving, but airlines that charge exuberant carry-on ... Read more »

F1 Japanese GP – Start time, how to watch, starting grid & more

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23 Red Bull driver Max Verstappen will start Honda’s home race from pole position after an impressive effort in qualifying, with ... Read more »

Tennis-China's Wang claims maiden WTA title in Guangzhou

FILE PHOTO: Wimbledon (Reuters) – China’s Wang Xiyu captured her maiden WTA Tour title on Saturday as the world number 88 powered past Magda Linette 6-0 6-2 in the final ... Read more »

Tropical Storm Ophelia moving inland over North Carolina as coastal areas lashed with wind and rain

Tropical Storm Ophelia moving inland over North Carolina as coastal areas lashed with wind and rain ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Tropical Storm Ophelia was moving inland across North Carolina early ... Read more »

Is this the beginning of Microsoft Surface’s slow death? I think so

So we have the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 and Surface Laptop Go 3, and the hype around them has been tepid to say the least — almost like Microsoft ... Read more »

Kevin McCarthy could suffer the 'same fate' as Newt Gingrich — here's how

Image via Matt Johnson/Flickr. In a Friday, September 22 op-ed published by Truthout, University of California at Davis lecturer and columnist Sasha Abramsky argues that “it’s hard to see, given ... Read more »

Chinese Shares Surge on Speculation of Eased Foreign Ownership Restrictions

Shares of Chinese retail giants Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) and JD (NASDAQ:JD).com saw a significant surge on Friday as the Chinese government reportedly contemplates loosening restrictions on foreign ownership of companies listed ... Read more »

Fed Signals Prolonged High Interest Rates Despite Economic Uncertainties

Fed Signals Prolonged High Interest Rates Despite Economic Uncertainties The US Federal Reserve (Fed) has signaled that it anticipates maintaining high-interest rates for an extended period, despite leaving them on ... Read more »

Drew Barrymore Explains Decision To Resume Talk Show Amid Strikes, Planned Picketing: ‘I Own This Choice’

Drew Barrymore Last week, it was announced that “The Drew Barrymore Show” was resuming production, with the fourth season kicking off in mid-September. When the WGA initiated strike action back ... Read more »

Jakobi Meyers injury update: Raiders WR leaves game after taking scary hit vs. Broncos

Jakobi Meyers injury update: Raiders WR leaves game after taking scary hit vs. Broncos The Raiders were able to beat the Broncos 17-16 on Sunday, but they suffered a key ... Read more »

‘Next Goal Wins’ Review: Taika Waititi’s Soccer Film Sacrifices Sincerity for Self-Conscious Humor

‘Next Goal Wins’ Review: Taika Waititi’s Soccer Film Sacrifices Sincerity for Self-Conscious Humor Before the world premiere of his latest film, Next Goal Wins, Taika Waititi offered a few introductory ... Read more »

Intelligence chief gives Russia no more than a year: ‘Down’ and ‘panicking’

Russia will not last another year in the ongoing Ukraine war. Ukrainian Lieutenant General and head of the Military Security Service Kyrylo Budanov is convinced of this at the “Yalta ... Read more »

Rubiales resigns as Spain's soccer president 3 weeks after kissing player at Women's World Cup final

Rubiales resigns as Spain’s soccer president 3 weeks after kissing player at Women’s World Cup final BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Luis Rubiales, the suspended head of the Spanish soccer federation, ... Read more »

Islanders’ Line Options for Oliver Wahlstrom

Islanders’ Line Options for Oliver Wahlstrom The NHL season is around the corner with opening night a month away. Recently, the New York Islanders writers at The Hockey Writers (THW) ... Read more »

Zach Bryan Spends Second Week Atop Billboard 200 With Self-Titled Album

Zach Bryan Spends Second Week Atop Billboard 200 With Self-Titled Album Zach Bryan’s self-titled album spends a second week atop Billboard 200 chart (dated Sept. 16), as the set earned 115,000 ... Read more »

Toronto: “Hotline Bling” Director X Calls for Training Black Talent to Break Down Barriers to Racial Justice

Toronto: “Hotline Bling” Director X Calls for Training Black Talent to Break Down Barriers to Racial Justice New Canadian Black talent faces many obstacles to making real inroads on film and TV ... Read more »

Braves become 1st MLB team to clinch playoff spot as Acuña and Olson lead rally past Pirates

Braves become 1st MLB team to clinch playoff spot as Acuña and Olson lead rally past Pirates ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves became the first team to clinch a ... Read more »

TIFF Tribute Awards: Spike Lee, Pedro Almodovar, Colman Domingo Provide Star Power Despite Strikes

TIFF Tribute Awards: Spike Lee, Pedro Almodovar, Colman Domingo Provide Star Power Despite Strikes Despite the first simultaneous strikes of actors and writers since 1960 — 16 years before the first ... Read more »

Halton Healthcare Takes Innovative Step to Combat Opioid Crisis

In a groundbreaking initiative, Halton Healthcare, encompassing Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, Milton District Hospital, and Georgetown Hospital, has emerged as one of the foremost community hospital organizations to offer free ... Read more »

Trudeau's plane grounded in India by technical issues after G20 summit conclusion

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s return to Canada from the G20 summit in India has been delayed by problems with his plane. The Prime Minister’s Office says it ... Read more »
Kênh kiến thức kỹ năng, phát triển bản thân, hướng nghiệp, blog nhân sự