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

Sean McDonough is still under the weather.

But ESPN’s top NHL broadcaster already sounds better than he did during Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final.

After calling Game 3 on Thursday night while admittedly sick, McDonough returned for Game 4 on Saturday sounding noticeably crisper and more energetic than he did two nights prior. Ahead of Game 5 in Sunrise, Florida, on Tuesday night, the longtime broadcaster joined SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio’s Adam Schein to discuss the unexpected difficulties he has faced calling this year’s Stanley Cup Final between the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers.

“I’m still a little under the weather, but we’re powering through it,” McDonough said. “It’s the playoffs. Everybody’s playing hurt, certainly the players are. It’s a grind. The playoffs started two months ago.

“I felt bad for Game 3. You live your whole life to call a Stanley Cup Final game. And you probably know this, Adam, from your experience, sometimes you think you’re better than you are and then when you get on the air and you really have to push it, you just can’t. Your voice just isn’t there. It was not the best way to go, but felt a lot better in Game 4.”

McDonough — who called nine goals in the Oilers’ 8-1 Game 4 victory — went on to admit that he was “bothered” by some of the criticism his Game 3 call received.

“It just kind of bothered me, not that you should pay attention to it,” McDonough said of the social media backlash. “People said, ‘He’s got a lack of energy.’ Yeah, I’m really not excited to call a Stanley Cup Final game. I’ve been doing this for, I don’t know, 30-something years now. I hope the people who have heard me over the years know that’s not the way I usually sound.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to power through it. Maybe I should have just stepped aside. The decision was made collectively, collaboratively with our bosses to give it a try, so I did. I’m just glad it’s hopefully behind us now.”

It’s certainly understandable that McDonough would take issue with such criticism, especially considering the circumstances of his illness and the track record he has amassed over the course of three decades in the industry. The good news, however, appears to be that the worst of his illness seems to be behind him as the Panthers — who lay claim to a 3-1 series lead — take their second shot at lifting Lord Stanley’s cup on Tuesday night.


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.