The ESPN NHL hires are continuing. Their latest addition is Mark Messier (seen above at the 2019 NHL Awards), well-known for his NHL career with the Edmonton Oilers (1979-91), New York Rangers (1991-97, 2000-04) and Vancouver Canucks (1997-00). Here’s more on that from a release:
ESPN today announced that Mark Messier, six-time Stanley Cup Champion and 15-time NHL All-Star, will join ESPN under a new multi-year agreement to be a signature part of its NHL coverage, beginning with the 2021-22 season. Messier will serve as a studio analyst when the NHL returns to ABC, ESPN, ESPN+ and Hulu this fall.
“The game of hockey, and the NHL, have afforded me enormous opportunity, success and experiences on the ice and in my life,” said Messier. “My passion for the game is as strong as it has ever been and I am looking forward to sharing that passion, plus my insights and analysis with the sport’s incredible fans. The NHL is beginning a new era with ESPN and The Walt Disney Company — with an exciting, evolving game and phenomenally talented players — and I am thrilled to be a part of the team.”
Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor, production said, “Mark has been one of the NHL’s biggest and most iconic stars, and we are ecstatic to have him be a large part of our upcoming hockey coverage. As a six-time Stanley Cup Champion, he will bring incredible insight, knowledge and analysis to ESPN and The Walt Disney Company that will both resonate with fans, and connect more and more of them to the game and to the league.”
It’s at least somewhat funny that after TNT hired Wayne Gretzky, ESPN went out and got probably the second-most famous member of the 1980s Edmonton Oilers. If only this could also lead to analyst roles for Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Bill Ranford, Grant Fuhr, Esa Tikkanen, Marty McSorley, and Kevin Lowe.
Joking aside, though, Messier does have an impressive playing background and is liked by a lot of people (outside of Vancouver, but that’s fine, because ESPN isn’t available in Canada), and he certainly is a high-profile figure. He doesn’t have a ton of experience as a TV analyst, but he has some, including occasional work with Versus, NBC, and Canada’s Rogers Sportsnet. And he’s been mentioned in discussions about running teams, including the Rangers, despite not having much experience in that field either. We’ll see how he does in this role at ESPN.
[ESPN; photo from Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today Sports]