Guest blogger: George Grimm … An interview with Jiggs McDonald on Boom Boom Geoffrion


Jiggs and Da Boom

by George Grimm

Jiggs McDonald is probably best known for his many years behind the microphone calling New York Islanders games. But before that he was the play-by-play voice of the L.A. Kings and Atlanta Flames. And it was while he was working for the Flames that he was paired with one of the legendary names in NHL and Rangers history, Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion.

In 1972 Boomer was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame and left the Rangers to become coach of the Atlanta Flames. He stayed behind the bench for two and a half seasons before moving to the broadcast booth with Jiggs McDonald.

Here is Jiggs on Geoffrion:  Da Boom and Jigg McDonalds, as he always called me. What a team that was. You have to give (Atlanta GM) Cliff Fletcher a lot of credit. He hired a salesman, he hired a motivator and I have to think he knew what he was getting, the personality he was getting. A lot of us in the business wondered what he was doing. Boom had that history of illness and didn’t have a very good coaching record as I recall. But in Atlanta, the Boomer was accepted by the populous, the people of Atlanta and the south. Yeah, he played in New York, but he was not a Yankee. He was French Canadian. The outpouring of love and support for Boom was incredible.

Montreal CanadiensI go back to what I said about him being a salesman. One of my first experiences with Boom in Atlanta, Norm Mackie who was our trainer put together a bag of equipment, everything to outfit a player from head to toe and Boom in the heat of the summer is out there in front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel with all this equipment on, explaining to people what all the gear was. He had to be just boiling, it was so hot it was incredible. He did that on more than one occasion. He had that warmth, that personality. He sold Boom and he sold the game. And people took to hockey because of Boom. He put a lot of people in the building. On another occasion I was with him at a service club that was 100 percent black and Boom sold them on the idea that it wouldn’t be long before there would be black players playing hockey and the first one that came along, he wanted to have on his team. And he finished up with the fist and peace sign. Peace and Love brother.  He was so good.

Boom had a deal with the local Lincoln Mercury dealer the tag line was always “At the sign of the cat”. And he had this big white Lincoln. He could drive into downtown Atlanta and he could double park, triple park if need be, leave the car running and go into this barbeque spot that he used to go for ribs and what we call pulled pork today. Get whatever he wanted to bring home or back to the office but usually it was take home in the evening and nobody touched that car, went near it, nor was any chance of it disappearing.  He was so well loved by the people in the area.New York Islanders Announcer Jiggs McDonald At Nassau Coliseum

From the hockey standpoint, there are a lot of Boom stories. I don’t think that too any players would tell you that he was good with the X’s and O’s or the strategy of the game, but he could certainly motivate. There’s a great story about Boom saying “There’s tree ting to dis game, tree ting. Skate and Shoot.” But Boom, you said three things. Boom said “yeah, Skate.. And.. Shoot”.

The guys used to tell the story of a game against the Boston Bruins and Boom going through the Bruins lineup before the game. “Who dem guys got. Nobody der dat I would want on dis team. All you guys better than dem. Well maybe dat H-Orr (pronounced hoar) but all you guys better dan de Bruins.”  He was a funny individual.

The day that he resigned as coach, we had played the Minnesota North Stars. We were flying back, commercial of course.  Cliff had the aisle seat, I had the middle seat and Boom by the window. And there was hardly anything said back and forth, there was no conversation. So we got home and that afternoon, I got a call from Jim Huber who was our PR guy that there was a press conference at six at the Omni, be there. Oh geez, we’ve been away, we just got home, There’s no reason for me to go down there.  What’s going on Hube’s?  “Boom quit” What? “Boom quit”. He had taken the team to the playoffs that second year and now into the third he recognized that they weren’t going to get there. And he was gone. He was out of there. That’s when Fred Creighon came in of course. Cliff always seemed to have a safety net. He was well aware of Boom’s history of either Illness or of walking away. The tendency to get out from under a bad situation. And the team wasn’t very good and wasn’t going to make the playoffs and this was his escape.

We were over at the house one day and I had a company car but he didn’t like our family car. He said “why you drive dat sh–box?” I said, well it depends on where I’m going and what I’m doing. But that’s basically my wife’s car. He said, “oh you shouldn’t be driving dat, I get you a big Lincoln.”  I said how are you gonna get me a Lincoln? He says “no problem.” So we’re doing a tag line, just a tag line about the Lincoln Mercury dealer and sure enough I got a car to drive and it was a Lincoln. It wasn’t even a lease, It was a loaner I guess. But I kept saying Boom how do you do this? He said, “Oh dey like me Jiggs.” And his whole MO was to get it “on the cuff”’.  “I get dat Jiggs, no problem. It fall off a truck.” He took great delight in telling everyone that he wasn’t French Canadian, he was Sicilian.  “You have a car?” he’d ask, “Don’t start it.” he’d warn.  We were on a cruise with him and Marlene one year, he had the entire crew of that ship in the palm of his hand. Everywhere he went the crew would be saying “Don’t start it”. He had a presence; he demanded an audience and commanded the audience. But when it came to the dressing room it was done through motivation. I think the majority of the guys would tell you that they pretty much coached themselves and he got them ready to go out there.


In 1979 Boomer realized a life long dream by becoming the coach of the Montreal Canadiens. Once again however he was forced to step down due to stomach ulcers.

Jiggs McDonald: He found religion and became born again in Atlanta. This was after he had gone to Montreal to coach and then came back. He was a great family man, loved his kids. So proud of Bobby and Danny and the fact that Linda had married Hartland Monahan. So enriched in the history of Marlene’s father (Howie Morenz) and the things that he had done. Just class, always dressed to the nines. He was the perfect guy for an expansion team in the south in 1972.


On March 11, 2006 the Canadiens retired Geoffrion’s No. 5 sweater. The date had been selected by Geoffrion because it held a special significance for his family. When Geoffrion’s father-in-law, the great Howie Morenz died in 1937, his casket was placed in the Forum for public viewing on March 11. Unfortunately Geoffrion never made it to Montreal that night or saw his sweater raised to the rafters. The Boomer died that morning in Atlanta of cancer at the age of 75.

Jiggs McDonald: His death was almost like it was orchestrated, he always had that element of show business about him. It was a shock, the timing of his passing.

I had spoken to Marlene his wife earlier that week and also to Linda his daughter and was aware that there wasn’t a whole lot of time left. And Marlene had kept me up to date on the trip to Montreal for the raising of the banner and how they were looking forward to it and just hoping that Boom would be able to make it. But to have him miss it by a day, but he probably wouldn’t have been able to go as it turned out but they were sure hoping that he would be there.

We went to Atlanta for the funeral. The only member of the Canadiens to be there was Jean Beliveau.  It meant a lot to Marlene. There were flowers from the Canadiens but Jean was the only representative of the Canadiens fraternity.


Boom Boom Geoffrion was indeed an unforgettable character, but so too is Jiggs McDonald. Jiggs can still be heard calling an occasional Islanders game, filling in for Howie Rose. His warmth, good humor and the joy of doing something that he loves still comes through in every broadcast. We thank him for sharing his memories with us.

(George Grimm is the former publisher of Sportstat, The Ranger Report and columnist for the Blueshirt Bulletin. He currently writes the Retro Rangers column for and is working on an oral history of the Emile Francis era New York Rangers.)

Photos by Getty Images.


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  1. Onecupin75yearsandcounting on

    When Geoffrion played for the Rangers ,I happened to be in Gerry Cosby’s who outfitted the Rangers looking at hockey sticks. There was a Northland pro lie 5 Geoffrion stick . The stick had a round heel instead of angled.. I bought the stick , never used it when I played and I sill have it.

  2. Wicky – What no RANGERS in the top 10 moves????

    Lots of dead money in those signings.

    Blackhawks getting Richie for $2M, has to be the smartest of them all. Not a lot of risk in a 1 year deal, to add a 50-60 pt center.

  3. Love those old stories, George! And I thought I was going back in time relating old barroom and off-ice anecdotes about John Davidson, Laidlaw, DooGay, et al. I’m just a baby.

  4. Could the responsible parties please post NEW POST when there is a new post? Lazy toads.

  5. Doodie Machetto on

    Thanks for sharing, George. Great read.

    Good for Renney on his new job. I don’t know if he’s the right man for the job, but good luck to him all the same.

  6. No News is Good New for the Rangers.

    Coos we don’t want Riberio?

    Manny would explode!

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  9. George Grimm on

    I just want to thank everyone for their kind comments. Thanks also to Carp for adding the photos, I appreciate it.

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  15. Wtf is going on?

    Again Russian newspaper writes about Kovalchuk and NHL return. Mentioned Rangers and Flyers as likely destination.

  16. CCCP, I think the Devils are interested in bringing him back too…

    But…here are the rules ( I got from a article):

    1. Unless Kovalchuk sits out a full season of professional hockey anywhere in the world, he cannot return to the NHL without consent from all 30 franchises until 2018-19.

    2. If Kovalchuk sits out a full season of pro hockey, he can only return with the Devils’ consent until 2018-19.

    3. Beginning in 2018-19, Kovalchuk will be 35, removed from the league’s voluntary retirement list and free to sign with any NHL team as a free agent.

  17. If McUndertaker would ever damn jump up, we could make some decisions. One more year and he’ll be another RFA.

  18. _Beginning in 2018-19, Kovalchuk will be 35_

    And that’s where we come in! Perfect plan! ;)

  19. It kinda flew under the radar, but the Rangers did sign this guy Chris Mueller to a *1-way deal* for $600k. A West Seneca NY-native…

    NYR brass say this guy has upside at 28 years old and has enough NHL experience. He just won the Calder Cup with the Texas Stars and apparently was known for scoring big goals and having excellent PP numbers in the A.

    I don’t see how this guy isn’t on the team next year given his salary and experience…

  20. However, logic might suggest that if this guy’s agent could have got him 700 grand, he’d be elsewhere.

  21. Exactly, coos. It also suggests that the Rangers are likely stacking the chips on this guy becoming a bottom 6 NHL forward. Because, wasting $600k in the AHL doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  22. I can buy that reasoning, NYR. He’ll probably open up in Hartford and if he impresses, will get a call up and a shot when we get an injury, depending on whom he beats out down there, if anyone.

  23. Could someone find a way to get Goodnight Vietnam off the bloggo and back into his muddy tunnel?

  24. Guest bloggers DON'T stink! on

    Great post! Sad to hear about the lack of Habs at his funeral

  25. Robby Bonfire on

    So many high-profile Montreal players, in the old days, found their way to New York, with some of them making a solid contribution, here, starting with The Boomer, Doug Harvey, Jake The Snake, and Phil Goyette, along with Montreal/Quebec home-grown products Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle, and Reggie Fleming. We never did acquire the services of Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard, however, which would have been rather nice, in their prime.

  26. Mike ribiero decision expected this week. It’s down to an east team and a west team. Some rumors have rangers being east team but I doubt it since rangers prob don’t do anything until they know what Kreider zucc and brassard get. I think it’s isles or Nashville.

  27. bull dog line on

    I agree Eric,
    Rangers will not do anything till arbitration is done. does Penner make the most sense? LW with size. would fit well with Brassard, and Zucc.

  28. I’d also throw Detroit in from the east due to them having to move a fwd or two to get a top 4 D.

  29. bull dog line on

    Setoguchi plays the wrong side, but he may be worth it a look as well. maybe sign both he and Penner would be worth a look together for the right price. see which one pans out.

  30. bull dog line on

    as it stands right now, this is what opening night looks like.

    Kreider, Stepan, Nash.
    Miller, Brassard, Zucc.
    Hagelin, Lindberg, MSL.
    Glass, Moore, Fast.
    your spare forward would probably be Kristo.

  31. I like the penner idea, not the speed of brass and zucc obviously, but still a good fit IMHO

  32. bull dog line on

    the only change on D is Boyle for Stralman. everything else stays as is. Allen is the spare, and battles J Moore for PT.

  33. bull dog line on

    yeah Wicky,
    the more I thought about it, the more I thought Penner should be the guy. I think his size opens things up for Brassard, and Zuuc. much like Pouliot did.

  34. Bull dog – looks about right. I would want the bubble boy to jump over someone, but that’s just me. Here’s hoping he gets his shot this year!

  35. Kreider-Stepan- Nash
    Zuccarello-Brassard- St. Louis
    Mueller-Moore- Glass/ or AHLer/prospect

  36. Riberio is a Predator. Thank God.

    Fisher out for 6 months.

    Rangers get a chance to play Miller/Lindberg at center.

  37. Kreider-Stepan-Nash
    Zuccarello-Brassard- St. Louis
    Mueller/Fast -Moore- Glass

    Is some fashion this could be our opening line up the first 10 games.

  38. If you don’t sign penner, I’d rather see msl and kreider swap places. Msl with brass and zucc did not work.

    Line up too small and weak as it is being posted

  39. bull dog line on

    the RW’s are Nash, MSL, and Zucc. flipping guys to LW just creates another hole. Zucc hates the left side. both MSL, and Nash are happier on the right.

  40. If the Zebras dislike you personally, unless you are a superstar, you become a liability for the team you skate for. With CarBomb, it’s worth noting that even before he “tussled” with the linesman, the initial penalty called on him prior to his indiscretion, was a phantom.

  41. 1 yr 1 mil for Roy.

    1 yr 1.05 ribiero.

    I would have taken Roy over ribiero.

    In Oscar Lindberg we trust.

  42. Poile is blind in one eye from that Weber shot right?

    Ribiero signing makes a little more sense now.

  43. Beggars can’t be choosers. Teams like Nashville and Phoenix have to take chances on guys like Ribeiro cause their options are limited.

    I actually think it’s a good signing for them, if it’s only one year. If he acts like a duchenebag, then send him home.

  44. Always an interesting read, George. Look forward to your guest blog every summer!

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