On Tuesday morning, ESPN announc-
Hold on. I need to set the mood.
There we go!
On Tuesday morning, ESPN announced their full broadcasting roster for their new-look NHL coverage. With the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning, NBC will no longer be the home of the NHL. Beginning with the Seattle Expansion Draft, ESPN and Turner Sports/TNT will be the joint-broadcasting homes of the league for the next seven seasons.
With ESPN taking the lead of the broadcasting partnership as the “A” network, they released their full roster of broadcasters from play-by-play teams to in-studio analysts and reporters. Find the full list here:
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) June 29, 2021
Official announcement from the ESPN press release:
ESPN formally announces all its NHL announcers for next season. pic.twitter.com/J4YrBp8qgZ
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) June 29, 2021
Some names we already knew were going to be part of the broadcast group for ESPN like Linda Cohn, John Buccigross, and Barry Melrose. But there are plenty of additions to the group that make me excited for ESPN’s re-introduction to covering the NHL. Blackhawks legend Chris Chelios joins the network as an in-studio analyst along with former NHL players like Ryan Callahan, Mark Messier, Rick DiPietro, Ray Ferraro, and Kevin Weekes. Sean McDonough will also become the lead play-by-play voice for the network. One major point for me with ESPN’s broadcast group is the lack of crotchety old men and the emphasis on a younger, more diverse group of voices in the mix.
Specifically, the presence of Black and female representation in the group of broadcasters having more prominent roles. Blake Bolden and Leah Hextall join Emily Kaplan in reporting roles for ESPN, while Cassie Campbell-Pascall, A.J. Mleczko, and Hilary Knight will be analysts with the network. I’ve mentioned Kevin Weekes before as an incredible broadcasting talent and having a great mind for the sport. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day he is in a general manager role with an NHL club (hey, maybe the Blackhawks) and his work with the NHL Network over the years speaks for itself.
It’s all part of the diversity movement that has been necessary for the sport of hockey to continue to grow and develop along with the culture of the sport. Seeing ESPN’s incredibly talented full roster makes me excited to see what Turner Sports presents as their full roster of broadcasters. I’m surprisingly optimistic that ESPN is actually going to take the NHL seriously and have their hockey coverage done well.