Sean McDonough calling a game remotely from the set of NHL on ESPN. Credit: ESPN

Sean McDonough’s muted call of the Florida Panthers’ victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final left many wondering whether the ESPN play-by-play broadcaster was under the weather.

Awful Announcing can confirm that McDonough is, in fact, fighting through an illness, which affected his call of the game on Thursday night.

“Sean has been under the weather, and we’re grateful for him pushing through and giving it his all last night,” ESPN senior vice president, Production & Remote Events Mark Gross told Awful Announcing in a statement. “He’s a consummate pro, one of the best play-by-play commentators in the business, and we’re lucky to have him on our team.”

ESPN sources described McDonough as devastated that he’s been affected by the illness at a time in which he’s calling the Stanley Cup Final for the second time since the network reacquired its NHL rights in 2021. He has even gone as far as to consult with team doctors in Edmonton in an attempt to overcome the illness.

The 62-year-old broadcaster previously missed the Game 2 matchup between the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final on May 24. It is believed that McDonough’s current illness could could stem from his previous one, which may have worsened with the lengthy flight from Florida to Edmonton between Games 2 and 3 this week.

At this point in the playoffs, very few — if any — hockey players are fully healthy and while they may not endure the same on-ice hits that they do, a run to the Stanley Cup Final remains taxing for all involved. Traveling as much as ESPN’s top broadcast team can certainly take a toll, and unfortunately for McDonough, that appears to be what may have happened here.

Currently, McDonough remains slated to call Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in Edmonton on Saturday night. With the Panthers laying claim to a 3-0 series lead, it could prove to be the final game of the series.

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.