Matt Rothman The Hockey Writers
Islanders’ Brendan Burke’s Path to Becoming a Top Broadcaster in the NHL
Throughout New York Islanders’ history, they have had some remarkable play-by-play broadcasters. It began with Jim Gordon in their inaugural season to John Sterling and then Tim Ryan before legendary broadcaster Jiggs McDonald started with the team. He broadcast the team that won four Stanley Cups and had many memorable calls in the 1980s.
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The great Howie Rose then took over in the 1995-96 season and had the honor of calling John Tavares’ overtime winner to end a 23-year playoff drought in his final call with the team. New York has had a rich history of great announcers, and Brendan Burke has now done an incredible job as one of the top announcers in the NHL. He has been rewarded with calling games for the Islanders both on MSG Network locally and NBC Sports nationally.
Brendan is the son of Don Burke, who was a sports reporter in the American Hockey League (AHL). Brendan went through the minor leagues as they would call it and worked his way up from college hockey, and then became the youngest broadcaster at 22 years old for the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL. Following that, he started broadcasting for the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL, who moved to Utica in 2013.
He was able to get some NHL experience working with KMOX radio, as well as broadcasting college hockey and football. Burke was named among the Top 30 Sportscasters Under 30 list released in 2014 by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America. He was also a part of the AHL All-Star Game broadcast in 2015 and also won the James H. Ellery Award for “outstanding media coverage.” Burke also broadcasts for the Premier Lacrosse League.
After Rose left New York, the Islanders hired Burke on MSG Network to work along with former four-time Stanley Cup winner Butch Goring. Since then, he has done games with A.J. Mleczko, Jennifer Botterill, and Shannon Hogan. He has continued to grow and is now one of the top broadcasters for NBC Sports and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the Islanders still in the postseason, he broadcasts remotely from the MSG studio for Round 1 and travels to the NBCSN studio in Connecticut to broadcast nationally.
“It’s been a challenge, just because the schedule comes out in pieces with NBC, so it’s not like I knew what my schedule would be in July and had the month, or four months off, to prepare for these specific teams, so it’s kind of been prepping on the fly.”Brendan Burke on calling games for MSG Networks and NBC Sports (from
‘Isles and NHL playoff schedule a wild ride for broadcasters Brendan Burke and A.J. Mleczko’, Newsday – 8/17/2020
With all that hockey, Burke has two kids with his wife Mary, who is also 25 weeks pregnant with child number three.
Tenure With the Islanders
He started by calling an Islander preseason game on Oct. 4, 2016, in New York’s 3-2 overtime win over the New York Rangers. He got a shout out from Cal Clutterbuck on the ice after being named a star in their win. His first regular-season game though, came at Madison Square Garden. Despite the loss, Brendan called his first goal from Nick Leddy 47 seconds into the third period in a 5-3 defeat.
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His first win would come in his third game as Josh Bailey scored an overtime goal in the Islanders’ home opener. The team went on to miss the playoffs in his first two seasons, but were back in the postseason in 2018. Once again, Bailey scored the overtime goal in Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where he debuted the famous call of “Game 1 to the Island.” Overtime wins would become a common theme with Burke, and recently had the call on Mathew Barzal’s overtime goal in Game 3 against the Washington Capitals.
He has a very smooth approach to broadcasting. Burke has always said that this is the best job that one could want and he brings terrific coverage to the Islanders every night. It is only a matter of time until we hear him calling Stanley Cup games as he has become a star and one of the most respected broadcasters in the entire NHL.
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