Thomas Hickey needs to be a long term fixture on NY Islanders TV broadcasts

New York Islanders v San Jose Sharks
New York Islanders v San Jose Sharks / Rocky W. Widner/NHL/GettyImages

The New York Islanders haven't exactly been a model of stability over the last 30 years, but no matter what was going on with the organization, their telecasts have always been best in class.

The next in this long tradition of broadcasting excellence is former defenseman Thomas Hickey. Just because someone played the game, doesn't mean they can explain the game to an audience with the detail and precision you would expect from a coach. Hickey does it with ease.

When you watch Islanders broadcasts, you learn something. He picks out small things during the period, often watching the action from the ice level, and then has the MSG Networks producers make a subtle but important play a focus during the intermission report. It could be a center's hand position on a face-off, the way defenders communicate in their own zone, or how a play developed.

When Lane Lambert or Patrick Roy used coaching lingo during a press conference talking about "dice" or the "F-3" position, there was Hickey a day or two later breaking down what they meant by that during the pre-game show. You could be a hockey fan for decades and never heard those terms, let alone understand them the way you did after a brief lesson from Hickey's classroom which was often the MSG Networks truck or in between the boards at ice level.

In his brief broadcasting career, he's already become an NHL Network analyst, able to show a colorful personality that can relate to today's hockey player on and off the ice. The hardest part of his job since joining the team's telecasts in 2022 was likely having to be impartial when analyzing the Islanders because these guys are not only his former teammates but also his friends. He didn't just share playoff moments with a lot of them; he attended their weddings and knows their families. That can be hard to navigate for a broadcaster, but Hickey did it, showing a willingness to critique the team in a fair and balanced way without being overly and unnecessarily critical for attention purposes.

Some players are just natural on the other side of the camera, but while some do it in a colorful, big personality way, Hickey is understated but immensely prepared and informed. That's not to say he can't have fun on the broadcast, but he's not going to use that as a crutch to get by on any given night. He's approaching each game like he was playing in it, which is why the product is so good.

The MSG Networks broadcasts are part of what makes being an Islanders fan enjoyable. Fans take pride in their announcers as they do with their team, and the broadcasters, unlike the players, tend to be around for much longer. The contract of play-by-play announcer Brendan Burke is reportedly up, with the New York Yankees full-time radio job being floated out there as a possibility. Meanwhile, some wonder how many more years Butch Goring will be in the booth. Let's hope the gang is back together next season and that Hickey continues to become a larger part of the presentation.