Announcers

The Stanley Cup: NBC out, ESPN back in, Turner debuts; Canada’s Sportsnet, Full list of 50 + voices

 

The 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs started on Monday, the first postseason of the new seven-year American TV deal with ESPN and Turner Sports. This is the first time there has been more than one NHL rightsholder on US television since the 1998-99 season, the last year of the Fox/ESPN split. National broadcasts in Canada are produced by Sportsnet, which is currently in the eighth year of its 12-year deal.

This will be Sportsnet’s second playoffs without previous lead play-by-play announcer Jim Hughson, who elected not to broadcast last year outside of Vancouver before retiring in September. Longtime NBC lead voice Doc Emrick also announced his retirement in 2020, leaving some giant shoes to fill on both sides of the border.

So who will be calling the Stanley Cup playoffs this year? Below is be a brief but full breakdown of all the play-by-play announcers and color commentators on the three channels broadcasting the games.

ESPN

The Worldwide Leader went in an unsurprising direction with their play-by-play announcers given the recent history of the company, but a path that has not been traveled too frequently among the American national NHL media arms. Bristol chose to eschew prominent local voices, with one notable exception, in favor of existing broadcasters within the company who have a history of calling the sport. I will be interested in seeing how they are perceived among hockey fans and sports media connoisseurs. Among the analysts, it is a mix of names ESPN brought in from NBC, NHL Network, and the Canadian channels.

Sean McDonough: (above) Lead play-by-play man for ESPN. Longtime national mainstay and part-time Boston Red Sox radio announcer made his name in baseball, basketball, and football, but got his first TV break calling the Beanpot, Boston’s famed college hockey tournament, for NESN. Has also called multiple Frozen Fours and the 1998 Winter Olympic hockey finals. Will work in the Eastern Conference in the first round, and call games all the way through to the Stanley Cup Final.

John Buccigross: SportsCenter anchor and ESPN’s lead college hockey announcer, also a host and play-by-play man for NHL coverage. Has been a prominent hockey media figure even when ESPN didn’t have NHL rights, most notably being the originator of the Bucci Overtime Challenge, a Twitter giveaway for people who can guess an overtime goal scorer correctly. Will work both games and studio in the playoffs.

Bob Wischusen: ESPN college football announcer and New York Jets radio voice, in his first season with a regular hockey schedule. Boston College alum called some games for the New York Rangers in the 2000s as a fill-in for Kenny Albert and Sam Rosen. Will work in the Western Conference in the first round.

Gord Miller: Lead hockey announcer for Canadian network TSN. Calls Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators local games. Is known as the “Voice of International Hockey” for his work on the World Championship and World Junior Championship. Had called games for NBC during the previous TV deal. Will work in the Western Conference, particularly in Canada, in the first round.

Mike Monaco: Up-and-coming multi-sport play-by-play for ESPN and ACC Network, backup television voice of the Boston Red Sox. Notre Damer, soon to be 29, was a finalist for the Chicago Blackhawks job this year. Will work the Washington-Florida series in the first round.

Steve Levy: Lead studio host for ESPN’s NHL coverage, previously a SportsCenter anchor. Was the voice of Monday Night Football in 2020 and 2021. Oswego State alum was the #2 play-by-play announcer during ESPN’s last TV deal, earning the nickname “Mr. Overtime” for calling many multi-overtime playoff games. Will work both games and studio in the playoffs.

Ray Ferraro: Lead NHL analyst for ESPN. Also does the TSN portion of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ schedule. Played 18 seasons in the NHL, ranking in the top 100 all-time in career goals and being selected to the 1992 All-Star Game. Part of ESPN’s coverage during the previous media deal, where he earned the nickname “Chicken Parm”. Will work all the way through to the Stanley Cup Final, primarily if not exclusively with Sean McDonough.

AJ Mleczko: The go-to women’s hockey color commentator in the United States, now in her fifth year working NHL games. Also serves as a studio analyst with the New York Islanders. Harvard alum played at two Olympic Games for Team USA, winning a gold medal in 1998. Has been the lead analyst for NBC’s Olympic women’s hockey coverage since 2006, also covers the Women’s Frozen Four for ESPN.

Kevin Weekes: Game and studio analyst for both ESPN and NHL Network. Played over 300 games as a goaltender in the NHL. Became the first Black color commentator in NHL history when he was hired by Hockey Night in Canada after his retirement. Has become renowned as an insider for his Twitter video announcements of breaking news. Will work primarily with Bob Wischusen, and will broadcast the Stanley Cup Final for the NHL International feed.

Cassie Campbell-Pascall: Backup analyst for the Calgary Flames, in her first year working on this side of the border. Three-time Olympian with Team Canada, winning two gold medals. Has worked with Hockey Night in Canada as an analyst and occasional rinkside reporter since 2006. Will work the Los Angeles-Edmonton series in the first round.

Ryan Callahan: In his first year as a color commentator after starting his media career in the NHL Network studio. Native of Rochester, N.Y. played over 750 NHL games, serving as captain of the New York Rangers and making two US Olympic teams before injury-induced retirement at age 34.

Dom Moore: Another newer name ESPN brought into its NHL broadcast lineup. Harvard graduate and NHL veteran of almost 900 NHL games. Won the Bill Masterton Trophy, essentially the league’s comeback player of the year award, in 2014. Started media career with NBC in 2021 before moving to ESPN.

Brian Boucher: Another analyst who moved from NBC to ESPN. Backup color commentator for the Philadelphia Flyers. Rhode Islander was an NHL goalie for over a decade, setting the modern record by recording five shutouts in a row during the 2003-04 season. Was NBC’s lead Inside-the-Glass analyst for the final two seasons of the previous deal, including on the Stanley Cup Final.

Rinkside reporters include Emily Kaplan, Caley Chelios, and Leah Hextall. The studio shows will be hosted by Levy, Buccigross, or Arda Ocal, with the panel consisting of Weekes, Hilary Knight, and Hall of Famers Mark Messier and Chris Chelios, with others possible later on in the playoffs.

TNT

Turner had never had national NHL rights previously, so the decision-makers were essentially starting from scratch in regards to personnel. The network scooped up most of NBC’s most prominent broadcasters, but only used three play-by-play announcers and six color commentators over the course of the regular season. That meant TNT had to look around for more broadcasters, and Turner used a strategy it has employed on its NBA coverage to find them. Most of the remaining talent beyond its regulars work for teams that did not make the playoffs this season. It should also be noted that unlike ESPN and Sportsnet, TNT will be utilizing three-person broadcasts the entire way through, with one analyst in the Inside-the-Glass position. So this list will get pretty crowded.

Kenny Albert:

Lead play-by-play announcer for Turner and radio voice of the New York Rangers. Also calls a full NFL schedule for Fox, and occasional New York Knicks games. Has been a regular on national sports television for almost three decades, but hockey is known to be his favorite sport. Called his first Stanley Cup Final on television in 2021. Will work in the Eastern Conference in the first round, and will continue all the way through the Conference Final, calling the Stanley Cup Final in odd-numbered years.

Brendan Burke: #2 play-by-play announcer for Turner and television voice of the New York Islanders. Hired directly out of the minor leagues by the Islanders in 2016, has found regular national work ever since. 37-year-old also was the voice of the Premier Lacrosse League when it was on NBC.

Randy Hahn: TV play-by-play announcer for the San Jose Sharks. Has worked for the Sharks since the very beginning, becoming their primary TV announcer in 1993-94, the team’s third year. Canadian has worked national West Coast games with some consistency over the course of the NBC deal. Will work in the Western Conference in the first round.

Dave Goucher: TV play-by-play announcer for the Vegas Golden Knights. Joined the team for their inaugural season in 2017-18 following 16 seasons as the radio voice of the Boston Bruins. Boston University graduate has received some national TV work since moving to Las Vegas, will likely call national radio games for Sports USA later on in the playoffs. Will work in the Western Conference in the first round.

John Forslund: TV play-by-play announcer for the Seattle Kraken. Joined the team for their inaugural season this year after previously calling games for the Carolina Hurricanes franchise dating back to the Hartford Whalers years. Was NBC’s #2 announcer at the end of its deal. Will work in the Eastern Conference in the first round.

Jim Jackson: TV play-by-play announcer for the Philadelphia Flyers. Utica, N.Y. native has been with the Flyers since 1993-94 and on TV since 1995-96. Previously was a part-time radio play-by-play man with the Philadelphia Phillies for over a decade. Will work in the Western Conference in the first round.

Eddie Olczyk: Lead booth analyst for Turner and color commentator for the Chicago Blackhawks. Had been lead analyst for NBC from 2006-07 until the end of the deal. Chicagoland native played 16 seasons in the NHL, scoring 342 goals. Briefly served as a coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins between media stints. Continues to work with NBC as a handicapper for his other favorite sport, horse racing. Will work in the Eastern Conference in the first round, and continue all the way through to the Conference Final, calling the Stanley Cup Final in odd-numbered years.

Darren Pang: #2 booth analyst for Turner and color commentator for the St. Louis Blues. Briefly was a goaltender for the Chicago Blackhawks despite being undersized at 5’5”, making the All-Rookie Team in 1987-88. Has had a very long media career, working for ESPN, NBC, NHL Network, the then-Phoenix Coyotes, and multiple Canadian outlets. Will have both local and national duties during the first round of the playoffs.

Shane Hnidy: Color commentator for the Vegas Golden Knights. Played 550 games in the NHL as a defenseman. Has been with the Golden Knights since the inaugural season, having previously served in the same capacity for the Winnipeg Jets for their first six seasons. Will work in the Western Conference in the first round.

Drew Remenda: Backup TV analyst for the San Jose Sharks. Never played professional hockey, but was an assistant coach for the Sharks for their first four seasons of existence. Longtime local media personality in a variety of roles with the Sharks and, previously, the Edmonton Oilers.

Keith Jones: Lead Inside-the-Glass analyst for Turner and color commentator for the Philadelphia Flyers. Played almost 500 games in the NHL before injuries ended his career at 32. Worked on the main studio panel for Versus and later NBC from 2005-06 until 2020-21. Will have the Inside-the-Glass role on the Conference Final, and be part of his first Stanley Cup Final broadcast in 2023. Will work in both the booth and Inside-the-Glass in the first round.

Butch Goring: Color commentator for the New York Islanders. Played 16 seasons in the NHL, winning four Stanley Cups with the Islanders and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1981. 72-year-old coached at a variety of levels after his career before moving into media. Will work in both the booth and Inside-the-Glass in the first round.

Jody Shelley: Color commentator for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Played over 600 games in the NHL as an enforcer, leading the NHL in penalty minutes in 2002-03. Has been a commentator with the Blue Jackets since his retirement, first on radio, then on TV since 2014-15. Will work the St. Louis-Minnesota series in the first round.

Bret Hedican: Color commentator for the San Jose Sharks. Played in the NHL from 1992 until 2009 as a defenseman. Minnesotan skated in two Olympics for Team USA and won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. Will work the Los Angeles-Edmonton series in the first round.

Bryce Salvador: Studio analyst for the New Jersey Devils. Was a defenseman for almost 800 games in the NHL, being named captain of the Devils for the last three seasons of his career. Will work in the Eastern Conference in the first round as an Inside-the-Glass analyst.

Jennifer Botterill: #2 Inside-the-Glass analyst for Turner and member of Sportsnet’s main studio panel. Harvard graduate played in four Olympics for Team Canada, winning gold medals in each of the last three. Will work on both sides of the border during the playoffs.

Darren Eliot: Studio analyst for the Vegas Golden Knights. Cornell alum was a goalie on the 1984 Canadian Olympic team and for a few seasons in the NHL. Connection with Turner goes back to his days as color commentator for the Atlanta Thrashers for their entire 12-season history. Has also worked in broadcasting for the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Detroit Red Wings. Will work in the Western Conference in the first round as an Inside-the-Glass analyst.

Meaghan Mikkelson: Studio analyst for the Calgary Flames. Played in three Olympics for Team Canada, winning two gold medals. Wisconsin alum started media career after being one of the last cuts from the 2022 Olympic team.

Colby Armstrong: Studio analyst for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sportsnet. Played nearly 500 games in the NHL, scoring the first goal of the inaugural Winter Classic event in 2008. Will work on both sides of the border during the playoffs.

Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre: Studio analyst for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Played parts of six seasons in the NHL as an enforcer. Spent immediate post-playing career as a real estate agent before being hired by the Blue Jackets in 2019. Nickname is “The Hyphenator”. Will work the St. Louis-Minnesota series in the first round as an Inside-the-Glass analyst.

Mike McKenna: Making his debut as an NHL game broadcaster for Turner during these playoffs. Left-handed goaltender had a long run in the minors, playing just 35 NHL games. St. Louisan was widely regarded as one of the most insightful and engaging players in professional hockey during his career. Had been in the studio for the Vegas Golden Knights for two seasons immediately after his 2019 retirement.

Rinkside reporters include Jackie Redmond (on PIT-NYR), Tarik El-Bashir (on WSH-FLA), Taryn Hatcher (on NSH-COL), Erika Wachter (on DAL-CGY), Shannon Hogan (on BOS-CAR), Julie Stewart-Binks (on TB-TOR), Ashali Vise (on STL-MIN), and Alyson Lozoff (on LA-EDM). The studio shows will be hosted by Liam McHugh, with the panel consisting of Rick Tocchet, Anson Carter, Paul Bissonnette, and Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky.

Sportsnet – Canada

Unlike its American counterparts, Sportsnet will not have its own broadcasts for every single playoff game. Every game will be shown on a Canadian channel, but some will just lift the ESPN or TNT feeds. Each play-by-play announcer on Sportsnet will work with one specific analyst and vice versa. Three of the four broadcast teams will work one particular first-round series, with there being three Canadian teams in the playoffs. Although some games were remotely broadcast during the regular season, all indications are that everyone will be onsite for the playoffs. The play-by-play announcers will be listed first.

Chris Cuthbert: (left) Lead play-by-play announcer for Sportsnet since the 2020-21 season. Also calls the Sportsnet portion of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ schedule. Came over from rival TSN in 2020, where he had been the lead NHL and Canadian Football League announcer, and also called hockey stateside with NBC. 65-year-old has called 21 Grey Cups. Will work the Tampa Bay-Toronto series in the first round and all the way through to the Stanley Cup Final.

Harnarayan Singh: Second year as an English-language announcer after previously having been Hockey Night in Canada’s lead Punjabi play-by-play man. Canadian-born-and-raised by Indian parents, and is Sportsnet’s youngest broadcaster at age 37. Will work the Los Angeles-Edmonton series in the first round.

John Bartlett: #2 play-by-play announcer for Sportsnet since the 2020-21 season. The 43-year-old has called NHL games for over a decade, having previously called local TV games for the Toronto Maple Leafs and both TV and radio for the Montreal Canadiens. Will work select first-round games that are aired on CBC, and will call one of the Conference Final series.

Rick Ball: Television voice of the Calgary Flames since the 2014-15 season. Has worked with Hockey Night in Canada since 2011. Had been the backup radio announcer for the Vancouver Canucks and primary radio announcer for the CFL’s BC Lions before taking the Flames job. Will work the Dallas-Calgary series in the first round.

Craig Simpson: Lead analyst for Hockey Night in Canada since the 2008-09 season. Also does the Sportsnet portion of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ schedule. Michigan Stater scored 247 goals and won two Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers before retiring due to back injuries at age 28. NHL’s all-time leader in shooting percentage. Worked as a color commentator with Fox Sports following his playing career. Will call all games with Chris Cuthbert.

Louie DeBrusk: Color commentator for the Edmonton Oilers. Played over 400 NHL games, primarily in an enforcer role. Had been the radio color commentator for the then-Phoenix Coyotes before taking the TV job with the Oilers. Son, Jake, plays for the Boston Bruins. Will call all games with Harnarayan Singh.

Garry Galley: #2 analyst for Sportsnet since the 2016-17 season. Played 17 seasons in the NHL as a defenseman for six different teams. Was selected to two NHL All-Star games. NCAA champion in 1984 as a player at Bowling Green. Will call all games with John Bartlett.

Greg Millen: Longtime analyst with Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada. Journeyman NHL goaltender, played over 600 games with six teams. Has been in broadcasting for 30 years; worked the 2007 and 2008 Stanley Cup Finals for CBC. Will call all games with Rick Ball.

Rinkside reporters include Shawn McKenzie and Kyle Bukauskas (both with Cuthbert/Simpson), Scott Oake (with Singh/DeBrusk), Caroline Cameron (with Bartlett/Galley), and Ryan Leslie (with Ball/Millen). The studio shows will be hosted by Ron MacLean or David Amber, with the panel consisting of Kevin Bieksa, Jennifer Botterill, Kelly Hrudey, and insiders Elliotte Friedman.

 

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Jake Baskin

Jake Baskin is a student at Dean College majoring in sports broadcasting. He does play-by-play for Northeast Sports Network and previously wrote about hockey for various SB Nation blogs. He loves the history and evolution of sports broadcasting and dreams of being a national-level announcer.

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