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Review Of ESPN’s First Night

from Ken Fang of Awful Announcing,

Hoping to differentiate itself from NBC which held the main NHL contract dating back to 2005, ESPN assigned Sean McDonough to be its main play caller. Ray Ferraro who had been with TSN in Canada was brought in to be his partner.

Their partnership on Tuesday for the Pittsburgh Penguins-Tampa Bay Lightning season opener showed potential. Ferraro offered the analysis that made him one of the NHL’s top color men over the last ten years. McDonough showed some rust in the beginning. His “goal” call instead of the more familiar “Score!” was lacking, and as Tampa Bay fell behind Pittsburgh early, the crowd at Amalie Arena grew silent. Perhaps that affected McDonough as his energy level was low.

McDonough is a very good nuts and bolts announcer, and he can rise to the occasion as evidenced by his college football calls, but on this night, there were times when he was behind the action and was trying to catch up, but as he went further into the game, he was able to get into a rhythm and pace.

Emily Kaplan was the rinkside reporter inside the glass and she did offer some good tidbits...

In the second game, John Buccigross joined former NHL on NBC analysts Brian Boucher and A.J. Mleczko. As Boucher and Mleczko are fresh from working for the Peacock, they had a good chemistry working off one another. Buccigross’s energy level was high throughout the game. His play-by-play has improved through the years as he has called the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 as well as the NCAA Frozen Four. Buccigross is not on the level of Doc Emrick or ESPN’s previous number hockey play-by-play man Gary Thorne, but he doesn’t have to be. He was on top of the action and had a good game to call as Seattle came back from a 3-0 deficit to tie before falling 4-3 to Vegas.


Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink


OlderThanChelios's avatar

Both Ferraro and Mleczko were horrible. I’d rather listen to Ol’Suck any day than either of those two.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 10/13/21 at 11:28 AM ET

Royal Grand Exalted PooBah's avatar

Was not fond of the blimp gondola shot over head view from the rafters or what they want to call it. Its too far away and it made me kind of sea sick as they were turning it to follow play around the net. The regular PP camera shot is much better. The only thing you get out of it is the movement around the net but its so far away the puck and players are so much smaller.

Posted by Royal Grand Exalted PooBah from the basement of the Alamo on 10/13/21 at 12:03 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

The production on the first game was a joke.  They made me hate Melrose all over again, and Kaplan is just a female Douche Canoe.

I thought the crew on the second game was far more enjoyable, although I didnt watch the whole thing.

Posted by Hootinani on 10/13/21 at 12:40 PM ET


It was so hard to listen to.  Just terrible

Posted by SevensForTed on 10/13/21 at 01:04 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

You want to engage with potential new to hockey fans? Ditch the awful, inane, cliche filled, uninformative - “coaches interview” and use that time to illustrate with a telestrater possibly, some of the more subtle strategies or plays that create goals or scoring chances, or how a play developed/broke down. New fans learn nothing from another coach “interview”..

Ok, rant over…..

Posted by Down River Dan on 10/13/21 at 03:51 PM ET


Why is “AJ” being forced on viewers in some of the most
high-profile games. It get it: she’s connected. Some VP called
her and recruited her out the blue to start doing this.
That’s not fair to her or to fans. It’s nice to have the sport open up to more
talent and be less limited. But that implies actual talent. Not a famous name from
women’s hockey whom some exec tabs. The voice is very hard on the ears and
the insights are usually of the “captain obvious” variety. Like just repeating something we all clearly just saw. Fans are always found to ride announcers we personally consider annoying or biased. And if a commentator or announcer is annoying enough, you either switch to another game, or sport, or go for a run or open a book.

Posted by lefty.30 on 10/13/21 at 05:30 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Why is “AJ” being forced on viewers in some of the most
high-profile games.

Posted by lefty.30 on 10/13/21 at 05:30 PM ET

It’s pretty obvious, lefty. It’s 2021 and networks feel they have to show how “in touch” they are with what the chattering mob of Twitter warriors want. It has nothing to do with talent or relevant experience. It’s virtue signalling of the highest order.

The voice is very hard on the ears and the insights are usually of the “captain obvious” variety.

For me, it’s the voice thing that makes it almost painful to listen to her. But that’s true of Ferraro as well. He’s just so monotone that it wears on you as the game goes on. But at least he can say “That’s like the time I…” and actually have something meaningful to contribute.

Nothing in Mleczko’s past experience is anything close to what playing in the NHL is like. It’s probably not even close to what playing in the AHL is like. So all she can do is describe what we just saw or simply read some “factoid” that she’s prepared ahead of time.

With all of the former NHL players floating around out there, it’s pathetic that Ferraro and Mleczko are the best ESPN could come up with as color commentators on opening night.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 10/13/21 at 06:41 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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