Hours before Monday’s induction ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame, this writer and a friend of Make Way for the Kings, Jeff Duarte of CaliSportsNews, met with Los Angeles Kings‘ legend Daryl Evans who, for nearly two decades, has been Nick Nickson‘s partner in the broadcast booth as the club’s radio analyst.
Nickson, who was honoured earlier in the day at a luncheon in Toronto, was officially given this year’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in addition to taking his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame as he was presented, as per tradition, with an induction blazer and ring.
Of the many who had impacted Nickson’s professional life, Mr. Evans was no exception, and he was in attendance at said luncheon. Evans, dressed in one of his beautiful designer suits, was in high spirits as he spoke with Make Way for the Kings of his broadcast partner and his big day.
“Well, it’s really a great honour to be here and be a part of it, and I feel very good for him,” Evans said of Nickson. “He’s had a long career, 34th or 35th year with the Kings, and it’s great to see him get recognized by his peers at the highest level. Well-deserved.
“It is now my 17th year working with him on the radio broadcast, but I remember when I was a player getting to know Nick at that time just seeing where his career had come from and gone to, it’s great. So I’m happy, happy for him. He’s very proud today as he should be. His family’s here to share this with him and it’s great to be a part of it. Our Kings family is very proud of him.”
When I last spoke to Nickson prior to this weekend, he admitted that the feeling of being chosen as this year’s Foster Hewitt Award recipient hadn’t sunk in yet. Nickson, however, did assure me that once he was in Toronto accepting his award, in addition to officially becoming a member of the hockey’s Holiest shrine, that the excitement would begin to dawn on him. Nickson was correct, and Evans attested to that.
“Well, Nick is kind of on cloud nine right now,” Evans said with a chuckle. “It’s something when you first hear about it, and when talking to him, it’s just an unbelievable feeling being here, especially with his family and his friends and everybody involved.
“He’s got some people from Rochester where he grew up that are here as well. I think the last day or two and even the next couple of days — tomorrow night in Los Angeles, we have a Legends Night and Nick is going to be our legend tomorrow night — so these next few days are going to be a little bit of a blur, but I think once you get a chance to sit down and digest, take a look at some of the pictures and tapes, to take in everything that happened, it’s got to be unbelievable for him. Standing up on that stage, he conducted himself with such great professionalism, so well-spoken, thanking all the people, and I know he took a lot of pride in being there and having as many people in the Kings family there, people that have been with him throughout his career. So, it’s a special time for him and I think he’s really enjoying it, but I think as time goes by, he’ll digest it even more and be able to take it in even more, to better understand the magnitude of it.”
Reminding him of how popular he is among Kings fans, whether in Los Angeles or abroad, we mentioned that a vast majority of silver-and-black supporters would love to see Daryl Evans enter the Hockey Hall of Fame himself. We asked Evans how he felt about the notion.
“Well, you know, that’s nothing that you think about,” a modest Evans replied. “And I think those were one of the first things that Nick uttered today as a lot of people do. You don’t think it when you go into a particular profession.”
Evans even took some time to reminisce about how it was joining the broadcast booth with Nickson in addition to discussing how the duo has been able to work so efficiently together as a unit.
“We take pride in what we do,” Evans stated. “Nick’s great to work with from the standpoint of being his partner on the radio. I had the great fortune of being able to listen to him when I was removed from the game, so it seemed like when I went into the booth and started working with him, the transition was very natural because I had heard him call so many games.
“Along with himself, Jim Fox, Bob Miller, we’ve got a great broadcasting team, but from my standpoint being the new kid on the block there, it’s been a great transition for me to have, the gentleman that I have to be able to learn from on a day-to-day basis and we constantly draw from each other. Each day, we learn something from our peers around the league.”
As we wrapped up, Evans summed up his feelings on his longtime broadcast partner with a sweet tone, showing how evident it is that Nickson has had such a profound impact on his life both from a professional and a personal standpoint. It was, in this writer’s opinion, a statement that was both refreshing and heart-warming.
“Again, just being part of things with Nick here is very special,” Evans continued. “It seems like it was just yesterday when we started but time has gone by, a lot of years have gone by, a lot of games have gone by, and you approach every one like it’s going to be your last one. I just cherish each and every day that I get to call games and to be able to call them with Nick.”
In addition to being an ambassador to the Los Angeles Kings and the community, Daryl Evans sometimes makes it easy to overlook just how talented of a radio analyst he is. From his detailed knowledge of the game, Evans has complemented Nick Nickson like few other analysts have for their partners. Both men have said that they gradually become better at their profession because of the other, and the more fans tune in to listen to the duo, the easier it is to believe. With that said, though, both gentlemen are much too modest to admit just how talented they are and furthermore, how invaluable they are to the Los Angeles Kings organization and their beloved fans.
A true gentleman at the rink and away from it, Daryl Evans consistently shows what a class act he really is, and what an honour it must be for Nick Nickson to call him his partner, and his friend.