When ESPN’s NHL media-rights deal kicks in next season, its lead play-by-play voice will be a familiar one to sports fans everywhere, particularly in New England.
Sean McDonough, one of the most accomplished and versatile national broadcasters of his generation and a longtime voice of the Red Sox who still calls occasional games on the radio, will be ESPN’s top announcer when its new seven-year deal with the NHL begins next season.
ESPN announced its broadcast teams and roles for the upcoming season Tuesday.
ESPN’s NHL coverage roster. Local connections include Boucher (Woonsocket, R.I.), DiPietro (Winthrop/BU), Mleczko (Nantucket/Harvard), McDonough (Boston/ex-Red Sox pXp), Bolden and Wischusen (BC Eagles), and Kaplan (once a Globie always a Globie). pic.twitter.com/QNubMAER4U— Matt Porter (@mattyports) June 29, 2021
McDonough has called just about every sport at a high level during his 30-plus-year career that began when he was hired in 1988 as the Red Sox’ television play-by-play voice. He currently calls high-profile college basketball and football games for ESPN as well as the annual Par 3 contest at the Masters.
He has been the voice of “Monday Night Football,” and has broadcasted the World Series, the NCAA Final Four, the Olympic Games, and all four major golf championships, among other marquee events.
Leah Hextall, formerly of NESN, also will be a play-by-play voice at the network, as will Steve Levy, John Buccigross, and Bob Wischusen. Levy will lead the studio team, but also call several games throughout the season.
Hextall made history in March 2020 when she became the first woman to call play-by-play for a nationally televised NHL game as part of SportsNet in Canada’s first all-female broadcast team. She had previously made history as the first woman to call an NCAA men’s Division 1 hockey championship game for ESPN in 2019. She was a host at NESN from 2012-14.
ESPN’s diverse group of commentators includes NHL greats Mark Messier and Chris Chelios, former US women’s hockey Olympic gold medalist and Nantucket native A.J. Mleczko, Ray Ferraro, Brian Boucher, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Kevin Weekes, Ryan Callahan, Rick DiPietro, Hilary Knight, and longtime ESPN analyst Barry Melrose.
Reporters include Blake Bolden, Emily Kaplan, and Greg Wyshynski. Linda Cohn will continue to host “In the Crease,” the signature nightly hockey program on ESPN+, during the NHL season.
Kenneth Garay and Eitán Benezra will handle play-by-play on ESPN Deportes, with Carlos Rossell and Antonio Valle contributing analysis.