Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept.
Kenny Albert showed up at the Kings' morning skate at Staples Center Monday, which normally would not be noteworthy for a guy set to call the game that night.
But when Ray Ferraro, the former Islander and Ranger and current TSN analyst, saw him, he did a double-take.
"He gave me kind of a funny look and said, 'Didn't I just hear you on the radio last night?' " Albert said. "People were trying to piece together where I've been."
So was Albert himself. When asked to recount his recent work and travel itinerary, he had to check his notes. "I'm definitely losing track of what day it is," he said.
Not that he is complaining about a dizzying, pan-continental schedule calling both the NHL Western Conference finals on national television and the Eastern Conference finals on local radio. On the contrary.
"It's been great," Albert said. "It's like an adrenaline rush for a month and a half during the playoffs."
What is different this season is that for the first time since Albert joined MSG -- and the first time since the Stanley Cup-winning year of 1994 -- the Rangers are one victory from reaching the Final.
And unlike '94, the last year in which a local TV channel was contractually allowed to carry a Cup clincher, the only Rangers voices who get to call the games are the local radio announcers, primarily Albert and analyst Dave Maloney.
"Just having the chance to listen to some of Sam Rosen's calls, I know how exciting it was for Sam and JD [John Davidson]," Albert said of '94. "Dave Maloney and I often talk about how lucky we are to go all the way through the playoffs. It's one of the benefits to doing radio."
Rosen admits he is envious. After two decades waiting for the Rangers to get this far again, his only contribution is pre- and postgame studio work on MSG.
"It's limiting; it's hard to watch," he said Monday. "Not that it's hard to watch the game and the excitement, but it's hard to be on the sidelines and not be involved on a daily basis . . . You miss that thrill of really being part of the moment to moment. But I've come to accept that. It's the reality of what goes on in all sports."
Rosen is a candidate to work the international feed for the Final, but for now he is focused on adding to MSG's coverage and soaking up the atmosphere. On Sunday, he watched the first two periods in the arena and the third period and overtime on a television near the postgame studio set -- on an 18-second delay.
The roar alerted him to Martin St. Louis' game-winner long before he actually saw it.
Albert got the assignment to work the West finals for NBC before he knew the Rangers still would be playing in the East. When that happened, he knew he was in for an interesting couple of weeks.
He called games in Chicago on May 18, Montreal last Monday, Chicago on Wednesday, New York on Thursday, Los Angeles on Saturday, New York on Sunday and Los Angeles on Monday, after which he was to take a red eye back to New York, then travel to Montreal on Tuesday and Chicago on Wednesday.
In addition to an understanding family, Albert said he "has tremendous bosses at Fox, MSG and NBC who have all been great about allowing me to maintain this jigsaw puzzle of a schedule. Fox and MSG have been terrific about allowing me to work the Olympics and playoffs for NBC, and it has been a thrill to work deep into the playoffs."
Albert, 46, said he slept for a couple of hours after Sunday's overtime game and for another three on the flight to L.A. before arriving at Staples. "That was not an illusion," he said. "I was in both places."
Does he worry about this kind of schedule affecting his performance?
"I feel the adrenaline carries you through," he said. "I feel I mentally prepared for it, so you don't let yourself get tired. The three off days were the most tired I've been. It was like my body shut down because it knew I didn't have a game."