by Patrick Hoffman on 05/17/12 at 11:49 AM ET
For someone that listened to New York Rangers’ game on the radio from the 1992-93 (I was 9 years old) season even up until now, the e-mail interview I conducted below was an absolute honor and pleasure for me to do.
I was lucky enough to conduct this particular e-mail interview with the voice of the Blueshirts on the radio, Kenny Albert. Kenny was kind enough to take time out of his extremely hectic schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he became the Rangers’ radio voice, some of his fondest memories as the Blueshirts’ radio voice and his thoughts on this year’s team.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
KA: I loved hockey from a very young age. I started attending Ranger games as far back as I can remember since my father was the radio voice of the Rangers. I played hockey as a kid, and as a teenager, I would bring a tape recorder to selected Ranger games and would do “mock” broadcasts. My first professional job was radio voice of the AHL’s Baltimore Skipjacks (1990-92).
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player?
KA: I was a fan of both the Rangers and Vancouver Canucks as a youngster, although I was definitely rooting for the Rangers in ‘94. I was a big fan of Wayne Gretzky, as well as many of the Ranger players during the 1980’s.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a sports/hockey broadcaster?
KA: Since the age of 6, when I received a toy tape recorder for my birthday. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do, although I did a lot of sportswriting as well during my high school and college days.
PH: What was your reaction when you first found out that like your father, you would be broadcasting Rangers’ games on WFAN?
KA: I spent the first five years of my professional career living in Maryland - 2 years as radio voice of the Baltimore Skipjacks, then 3 years as TV voice of the Washington Capitals - and loved every minute of it. My dream while growing up was to become radio voice of the Rangers, and when the opportunity presented itself during the summer of 1995, I could not have been more excited - and still am! It is a special feeling whenever I walk into Madison Square Garden, even though I have been going there for more than 40 years!
PH: On Rangers’ radio broadcasts, what are you trying to bring listeners on a daily basis?
KA: We try to bring the highest quality of professionalism, while sharing a tremendous passion for the sport of hockey. I have the pleasure of working with one of the best analysts in the business in Dave Maloney. You won’t find many analysts who work harder than the former captain of the Blueshirts.
While our main goal during the broadcasts is to describe what is taking place on the ice, we also weave in pertinent information and try to bring the listeners behind-the-scenes thanks to our hours and hours of preparation. Dave and I spend countless hours at practices, talking to players and coaches, etc. We also devour hockey information on the internet, and watch hundreds of out-of-town games during the season to build our base of knowledge on the entire league.
PH: What are some of your greatest memories as a Rangers’ radio broadcaster? Why?
KA: Prior becoming Rangers broadcaster, I called the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals on NHL Radio. Game 7 against Vancouver would have to be my biggest Rangers memory. There are so many to list during my 16 years on Rangers radio, but here are some of them:
—My first game with Sal Messina in Hartford in October 1995
—The playoff run to the Conference Finals led by Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier in the spring of 1997
—Mark Messier’s return to MSG as a Vancouver Canuck
—The jersey retirement nights for Mark Messier, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch and Adam Graves, as well as Harry Howell/Andy Bathgate
—The first season (2005-06) following the lockout, when the expectations were low prior to the season, and Jaromir Jagr (54 goals) and a rookie named Henrik Lundqvist led the Rangers to their first playoff appearance in eight seasons
—The sweep of Atlanta, then the Michal Rozsival goal in double overtime against Buffalo in April 2007
—The 2012 playoffs. Up until this point, the biggest moments: Game 7 wins against Ottawa and Washington, the Gaborik goal in triple overtime in Washington, and the Game 5 comeback against the Caps.
PH: Now onto some actual hockey talk. Coming into the 2011-12 NHL campaign, did you think the Rangers’ would be as good as they were this season? Why or why not?
KA: Prior to the season, I felt the Rangers had the talent to finish in the top 4 in the Eastern Conference. They exceeded all expectations by winning 51 games, compiling 109 points and finishing with the top seed in the East. After six outstanding seasons, Henrik Lundqvist raised the bar even higher in 2011-12. Marian Gaborik returned to his form of 2009-10 with 41 goals, Ryan Callahan had a career year in his first season as captain, and the young defensemen continued to develop into one of the top groups in the NHL.
PH: If anything, what do you think this season says about the Rangers’ future?
KA: I think the Rangers have an outstanding future. The core of this team are players who were drafted or originally signed by the Rangers, and have come up through the system. By integrating players such as Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider this season, the future seems brighter than ever!
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.