GREENBURGH, N.Y. - There are many things an opposing coach might call a team's longtime play-by-play man, some of them not so nice.
But the nickname Capitals coach Barry Trotz has for Rangers radio man Kenny Albert is unique: "roomie."
Turns out Trotz, 52, and Albert, 47, roomed on the road for two seasons in the early 1990s when the former was a coach for the AHL's Baltimore Skipjacks, a Capitals affiliate, and the latter was their very young announcer.
The idea was to save money, of course. But when Trotz was elevated from assistant to head coach during the 1991-92 season, he earned the right to have his own room. He declined.
"He didn't want to change the karma, so we still roomed together," Albert said Tuesday during the Rangers' practice for their second-round playoff series against the Caps.
As with all minor-league teams, there were many travel misadventures along the way, including one night in Utica when snow was coming in under the door of their hotel room and they slept in winter jackets.
Trotz is from Dauphin, Manitoba, the same area as former Rangers coach Ron Low and former Islanders coach Butch Goring, whose hockey school he attended in his youth.
He moved with the Skipjacks to Portland, Maine, where he won a Calder Cup in 1994 - with Albert and other friends from the Baltimore days in attendance.
Albert said he always rooted for Trotz to do well during his 15 seasons with the Predators, but he never got to call any of his games in the playoffs until the first round against the Islanders, a series he worked for NBC.
Now he will do so as the Rangers' radio play-by-play man, as well as for Game 2 on NBC. With all the TV coverage of the series on national outlets rather than MSG, Albert will be the primary local voice following the Rangers henceforth. (John Forslund will call Games 1, 3, 4 and 5 on NBCSN.)
Albert won't be rooting for Trotz over the next two weeks, but their friendship endures.
"He's a guy who never played in the NHL, worked his way up the ladder, just a tremendous guy, one of the nicest people I've ever met, not only in hockey, but in life," Albert said. "I really learned a lot from him about hockey as well."
Friendship in minor league hockey often involves practical jokes, and Albert recalled a doozy that Trotz pulled on him early in the 1991-92 season.
Trotz had said something during a pregame interview with Albert that Albert found funny, and he played it for some of the players, who found it funny, too.
Less amused was Trotz, who vowed revenge. Months later, during a trip to the Canadian Maritimes, Albert was led upon landing in Sydney, Nova Scotia, to an unmarked police car where he was grilled with questions and driven around for 15 minutes.
Eventually Albert figured out something was amiss. Trotz had arranged through the Capitals' head of security, whose brother was a police chief in Nova Scotia, to put a scare into the young Long Islander.
"It was the practical joke following what I had done to him four months earlier," Albert said. "We still talk about that as well."