A couple weeks back, we talked about the finer points of the new television deals that the NHL inked with ESPN and TNT. Yesterday, we talked about Wayne Gretzky moving from the Oilers front office to the TNT studio. Now, let’s talk about some other hires in broadcast and the league.
Last week, ESPN made a bold move in hiring Leah Hextall as a play-by-play announcer for the network. She’ll be doing NHL games for sure and other duties, which may include calling other games for other leagues. While she won’t be the lead announcer, which looks to be either Steve Levy (current MNF) or Sean McDonough, both of whom are currently with ESPN.
— New York Post (@nypost) May 17, 2021
Hextall became the first woman to call a NHL game last year when she voiced play-by-play for a Calgary Flames – Vegas Golden Knights contest. She is accomplished and knows the game of hockey. Like seriously, hockey is on her blood: her grandfather was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969 and her cousin in former Flyers goalie and current Penguins GM Ron Hextall. He grandfather Bryan was considered one of the top wingers in the NHL in the 1940’s when he played for the New York Rangers.
ESPN has also hired Ray Ferraro and Brian Boucher as analysts for the broadcasts.
TNT will have a top broadcasting pair of Eddie Olczyk and Kenny Albert.
Now for some league hires.
After dismantling their front office, the New Rangers have hired former player Mike Grier as a senior advisor to the GM specializing in working with prospects as well as hockey decisions.
OFFICIAL: #NYR President and General Manager Chris Drury has announced that Mike Grier has been named Hockey Operations Advisor.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 19, 2021
And the New Jersey Devils have hired Olympic Gold winning player Meghan Duggan for a newly created role within their Player Development group. This new role is Manager, Player Development within the club’s Hockey Operations Department. Her role will encompass the following:
Duggan will work closely with Senior Vice President/Assistant General Manager Dan MacKinnon across all levels of the development department’s operations, with a specific focus on on-ice and off-ice information. She will coordinate with the Athlete Care group, Development Coaches and Management on the design, improvement and execution of progress plans for all players within the organization. Duggan will be responsible for staff schedules, synthesizing information regarding prospects and AHL/ECHL players while assessing all players through in-person and video scouting. Additionally, she will join the Devils’ staff in on-ice development throughout the year.
While the NHL might be slow to embrace change, it seems that individual teams are embracing diversity through their hires. I hope this trend continues.