“I’m in on the action,” Sam Rosen said Tuesday. “It’s all that matters.”
It was the day after he was in Raleigh for Game 7 of the Rangers’ second-round series against the Hurricanes and the day before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Lightning at Madison Square Garden. .
And for Rosen, a co-worker’s scheduling conflict had opened the door for him to call at least the first four games of the series on ESPN New York radio.
Kenny Albert, the Rangers’ regular playman, is now Turner’s lead announcer, and he’s been assigned to the Western Conference final between the Avalanche and the Oilers which begins Tuesday night.
Trying to shuttle between Denver, New York, Edmonton and Tampa Bay was a logistical failure, so Rosen – the longtime Rangers man from MSG Networks – was brought in to support Albert alongside analyst Dave Maloney.
Rosen has filled in sporadically before, including for Games 3 and 7 of the second round this season, but this will be his longest extended spell with Albert.
That’s no small thing, as local TV announcers — and fans who love their jobs — often get frustrated when their teams make deep playoffs and national outlets take over. (MSG made the first-round series against the Penguins, but then gave up exclusive coverage to ESPN.)
Rosen, 74, felt this acutely in 2014 and 2015, when the Rangers reached the Stanley Cup final and then the Eastern Conference final and he was limited to a small role in broadcasts. post-game. Now he is in the middle again.
“It was the little things [in ’14 and ’15],” he said. “Being able to call the games is great. I mean, that’s where the action is. That’s where you feel like you’re part of what’s going on, part of this whole race. You can feel the excitement. It continues to build.
Rosen was so keen on getting as involved as possible that he wrote in his contract with MSG that when Albert needed backup, he got the call.
“With my long relationship with the Garden and with Rangers, I felt it was not wrong to ask for this to be part of the deal,” he said.
Rosen is a popular figure among fans, and his call to win the 1994 Cup is part of franchise lore. (It was the last time a local TV channel was allowed to broadcast the final.)
“The fans have been great,” he said. “They are so into it. And they’re so positive, whether it’s coming out of the Garden or coming in for a game, and even on the road.
“[Monday] night there were a lot of Rangers fans at the game [in Raleigh] and when you see them and they say hello to you and you hear the comments, it’s: “We would like you to make the games”. We miss you and Joe [Micheletti] . . . It’s gratifying to know that we have an impact on them and that they appreciate everything we do.
If the Western Final ends earlier than the Eastern Final, Albert could return later in the series, so Rosen’s status for potential Games 5, 6 and 7 is undetermined. And if Rangers make it to the final, Albert will be back on the radio, as ABC will air the final on TV. (Turner has it next year.)
Rosen would agree with that. “For the finale,” he said, “I’ll ask for any role I can get.”
John Giannone and Steve Valiquette will be at MSG Studios for pre-game and post-game coverage of every game in the series. Marty Biron will join them for Game 1. The rest of the schedule, including the role of Henrik Lundqvist, has not been finalized.