Donny-on-the-spot: La Greca on what it was like to call Stanley Cup Final Game 1

Mere hours after calling the New York Rangers’ Game 1 Stanley Cup Final loss to the host Los Angeles Kings, Don La Greca was still trying to fathom it all.

Not so much the loss by the Rangers, who are playing in their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years. More so it was the part that saw La Greca in the Staples Center Wednesday night. The ESPN New York 98.7FM radio personality was the play-by-play radio voice for the Rangers’ broadcast because of a series of circumstances.

La Greca, normally the ice-level reporter for Rangers’ playoff games, filled in for Kenny Albert on the Rangers’ radio play-by-play. Albert was replacing NBC’s Mike Emrick, who missed the Cup opener because of a death in the family, the network said.

Despite the 3-2 overtime loss for the visiting Rangers, the opportunity was “one of the proudest moments of my career,” La Greca told Front Row from his Los Angeles hotel room Thursday morning. “I never lost sight of the game’s significance and was honored to be part of it.”

A long-time member of the Rangers broadcast team, La Greca also co-hosts The Michael Kay Show on 98.7FM. La Greca has shown a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

He provided Front Row more perspective on calling a Stanley Cup Final game.

What was calling Game 1 like?
It was an even better experience than I thought possible. I was nervous going in, with so many people wishing me luck and saying what a great opportunity it was. I didn’t want to let them down. Dave Maloney [radio analyst] and John Giannone [ice-level reporter] made me feel comfortable and as the game progressed, I felt really good.

What was the highlight of the game?
The last minute of regulation, back-and-forth action with many fabulous saves. There was so much on the line and I felt my description captured the excitement of the moment.

How would you describe the entire day?
The entire day was surreal. I was at ESPN LA 710AM and the team was hooking up cameras for The Michael Kay Show since I was there. I am not used to that. The Kings mascot came into the studio and as I prepared to pose for a photo with my arm around him, I though Rangers fans would be upset. So I punched Bailey and tweeted that [see Tweet above]. It was fun!

Where were you for Stanley Cup Final Game 1 in 1994, the Rangers versus the Vancouver Canucks?
I was working at Sports Phone in Elmont, Long Island, watching on TV and providing updates every 10 minutes. I never dreamed that 20 years later, I’d be calling Game 1.

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