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Islanders announcer Chris King returns to booth after streak ends

The Islanders' radio play-by-play man missed first game because of illness  in 25 years on Thursday.

Islanders radio announcer Chris King poses before a

Islanders radio announcer Chris King poses before a game at Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 27, 2014. Photo Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Chris King was not sure what was wrong when he felt tightness in his chest on Thursday morning, but he was sure about not taking any chances — not after his father and his father’s father died of heart attacks.

So the Islanders’ radio play-by-play man went to the emergency room at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip for a series of tests, all of which provided good news.

One problem: He was advised to stay for another round of tests, six hours later. “That’s when I realized I wasn’t going to make the game [against the Devils in Newark],” he said.

King recalled the episode before Saturday’s game against the Avalanche at Barclays Center, when he began a new games-worked streak.

Thursday marked the first broadcast he had missed because of illness or injury in 25 years on Islanders radio. But for King, it was “an easy decision” when he was faced with putting at risk his future with his wife, Beth, and children Maggie, 15, and Connor, 12.

“The streak didn’t really play into it,” he said. “It was knowing that my wife and children need me a lot more than any game coverage.”

The only other time King has missed work on a game day in 25 years was three games in late November 2009, when his father died.

“I’ve been very sick and fought through it,” he said. “Believe me, there are a lot of games I probably shouldn’t have been at, but I found a way through.”

This was different. He visited his cardiologist for further tests on Friday and is due back for more in the coming weeks. But so far, so good.

King watched MSG Plus’ pregame show at the hospital, then listened to the Islanders’ radio coverage on the way home. It featured his partner, Greg Picker, alongside Hofstra student Kenny Conrade, filling in for King.

When he got home, he watched on TV while alternating audio among MSG Plus, the Islanders’ broadcast and the Devils’ broadcast, which that night featured guest announcers Gregg Giannotti and Boomer Esiason of WFAN. King went to East Islip High School with Esiason.

“It was very strange,” King said. “It was a unique experience to be able to watch the game on MSG Plus and see the great job they do, which I never see, listen to my own broadcast, which I wasn’t on, which was surreal, then to have Boomer, who I grew up with, doing the game with Gio.

“It was probably the perfect night to have it happen, if you will, in that I could sit there and rotate through the three audio sources in my bedroom as I watched it on TV.”

King, 57, urged everyone to have potential symptoms checked out. His doctor told him 10 percent of people who have heart attacks do not know they had one.

He expressed gratitude for the outpouring of concern and well wishes from the hockey world and its fans.

“The reason I have a job is people like to listen to Islanders hockey,” he said. “The fans] mean everything to me . . . It makes you realize how much people value the work that you do, and it was a great feeling, it really was.”

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