ESPN and Turner are continuing to build NHL staffing ahead of their debut seasons this fall. Turner reportedly agreed to terms with NBC’s Kenny Albert and Eddie Olcyzk as their lead broadcast team last week, and that week also saw ESPN making rumored pitches to TSN’s Ray Ferraro, NBC’s Kevin Weekes, and former NHL legend (and current wine/beer/whiskey entrepreneur and Edmonton Oilers’ alternate governor) Wayne Gretzky. However, as per a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post Monday, while Ferraro will be heading to ESPN (and so will NBC’s Brian Boucher), Gretzky will not be, choosing instead to only consider an offer from Turner. Here’s more from that piece:
ABC/ESPN has signed Ray Ferraro to be one of its top analysts when its coverage begins next season, The Post has learned.
Ferraro will be part of its Stanley Cup coverage and could be its top game analyst, according to sources.
Meanwhile, Brian Boucher is leaving NBC to join ABC/ESPN as another lead analyst, according to sources.
…Another former Ranger Wayne Gretzky will soon determine if he will join TNT or not.
ABC/ESPN had also pursued Gretzky, but he is either going to end up with TNT or decide to not do it, according to sources. TNT has had Gretzky’s buddy, Charles Barkley, lead its recruiting efforts to land The Great One.
Ferraro (seen at left above) and Boucher (seen at right above) give ESPN a couple of recognizable game analysts. Both played in the NHL (from 1984-2002 and from 1999-2013 respectively), and both have been notable media figures since their playing careers, with Boucher working for NBC Sports Philadelphia at first and then nationally for NBCSN and NHL Network since 2015, and with Ferraro working for ESPN in the early 2000s, then working for NBC, Sportsnet West, and TSN. And while ESPN hasn’t yet brought in an outside play-by-play voice, they have several possibilities in-house, with Marchand mentioning Steve Levy and Sean McDonough as front-runners.
As per Gretzky, it’s going to be interesting to see if he does wind up making the jump into broadcasting. It’s certainly notable that he’s already reportedly decided he doesn’t want to do this with ESPN, and that may indicate he doesn’t want to do it overall. (But, then again, there could be some reasons for him to only explore this with Turner, from his friendship with Barkley through Turner’s lack of need for their analysts to appear on debate shows and SportsCenter.) We’ll see what this leads to for him.