Barry Melrose, Steve Levy Top Commentator Team for ESPN’s World Cup of Hockey 2016 Telecasts; Brett Hull and Chris Chelios Join as Studio Analysts
- Levy & Melrose to Call All Team USA Games, Semifinals & Final
- Hull, Chelios, John Saunders, John Buccigross & Adnan Virk the Studio Team
- Buccigross, Kevin Weekes to Cover Remaining Games
- Leah Hextall Ice-level Reporter
- Linda Cohn Feature Reporter
NHL studio analyst Barry Melrose, SportsCenter anchors Steve Levy and John Buccigross and former NHL goalie Kevin Weekes will call ESPN’s telecasts of the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre from September 17 – October 1. A minimum of 16 games (17 if the Final goes three) will be televised.
In addition, Hall of Famers and former NHLers Chris Chelios and Brett Hull will join ESPN to provide studio analysis and work with hosts John Saunders, Adnan Virk and John Buccigross. Leah Hextall will serve as an ice-level reporter for each game. SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn will provide features.
Mark Gross, ESPN senior vice president production and remote events, said, “ESPN’s commentator team brings together a stellar combination of hockey knowledge and experience from Hall of Famers to seasoned play-by-play voices, analysts, reporters and hosts. The World Cup of Hockey 2016 will feature the best players from around the world and will create an environment of international competition and pride in country. Our team of commentators will capture that emotion and provide in-depth analysis from diverse perspectives that fans at home expect.”
Melrose and Levy will call all of Team USA’s games as well as both Semifinals and the best-of-three Final. The duo has reported from every Stanley Cup Final since 1994.
- For more than 20 years, Melrose has provided NHL analysis on SportsCenter. Melrose joined ESPN in 1994 as a Stanley Cup Playoffs analyst and has covered the league for the network as well as ABC Sports throughout the years. After a six-season NHL career, he served as head coach for the Los Angeles Kings when Wayne Gretzky was on the team and led them to the 1993 Stanley Cup Final. He coached the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2008 season before returning to ESPN in 2009.
- Levy joined ESPN in 1993 as a SportsCenter anchor and handled play-by-play duties for the NHL on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports from 1995-2005. He also served as studio host for ESPN’s NHL telecasts. He currently hosts the Levy Lounge segment on SportsCenter where Melrose is a regular guest for hockey discussions including the announcement of Team USA. Levy has worked the three longest televised NHL playoff games in history.
Buccigross and Weekes will call the remaining games.
- Buccigross served as the primary host of NHL 2Night on ESPN2 shortly after joining ESPNEWS in 1996. Today, Buccigross is an anchor on SportsCenter and regularly contributes to hockey updates. Prior to ESPN, Buccigross authored a book entitled, “Jonesy: Put Your Head Down and Skate: The Improbable Career of Keith Jones.”
- Weekes currently works as a commentator on NHL Network and NHL.com. The former goalie played 11 seasons in the NHL with the Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.
Hull, Chelios, Saunders, Virk and Buccigross will work in the studio during the tournament.
- Hull played 19 seasons in the NHL for Calgary, St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit and Phoenix, winning two Stanley Cup Championships (1999 Dallas and 2002 Detroit). He also played in two World Cup of Hockey tournaments in 1996 and 2004. He took home the gold medal in ‘96 and finished fourth in ’04. Hull was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and is currently an executive vice president for the St Louis Blues.
- Chelios is currently the Detroit Red Wings assistant coach after advising the team’s management staff for the past five years. The retired defensive veteran played 26 seasons in the NHL competing in 1,651 games with the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and Atlanta Thrashers. During his playing career he won three Stanley Cups and made 11 All-Star Game appearances. The Hall of Famer won gold playing for the US in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
- SportsCenter anchor Virk joined ESPN in May 2010 as an anchor for ESPNEWS after 12 years in Canada at various stations. His most recent job before joining ESPN was as a reporter and host from 2010 – April 2011 for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment‘s Raptors NBA TV, Leafs TV and Gol TV.
- Since joining ESPN in 1986, Saunders has become one the most visible and versatile commentators. He worked NHL games for ABC in 1993 and 1999-2004 including hosting the Stanley Cup Playoffs on ESPN from 1993-2004. Currently, Saunders hosts ESPN and ABC’s coverage of college basketball and football, as well as ESPN’s Sports Reporters. Originally from Toronto, Saunders was an all-star defenseman in the Montreal junior leagues and played hockey at Western Michigan on scholarship as well as the Ontario University Athletic Association.
Hextall will provide in-game ice-level reports and interviews. Cohn will serve as a feature reporter.
- In February, Cohn anchored her 5,000th SportsCenter, more than any other anchor. Cohn has served as a SportsCenteranchor since joining ESPN in 1992. Prior to her career as a sports anchor she also played hockey at the high school and college levels. As a senior at Newfield (N.Y.) High School, she served as the goalie on the boy’s ice hockey team and in college on the Oswego women’s ice hockey team.
- Hextall was previously an NHL studio host on Sportsnet in Canada. Before that, she worked as an anchor at NESN covering Boston sports. Hextall’s grandfather Bryan Hextall is in the Hockey Hall of Fame and her cousin Ron Hextall is a former goalie for the Flyers.
ESPN, the National Hockey League (NHL), and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) announced the television agreement on March 4, 2015.
About the World Cup of Hockey
The World Cup of Hockey is a joint effort of the NHLPA and the NHL, in cooperation with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Eight teams — Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Europe, Team Finland, Team North America, Team Russia, Team Sweden and Team USA — will compete in the two-week tournament, featuring more than 170 of the best players in the NHL. All tournament games will be played at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, home of the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs.
The eight teams are split into two Groups, Group A and Group B, for the Preliminary Round (Sept. 17-22), when each team will play its three Group opponents in a round-robin format. Placed in Group A are Team Canada, Team Czech Republic and Team USA, plus Team Europe, a pan-European roster of players from birth countries outside of the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden. The four teams in Group B are Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden and Team North America, a selection of the top players from Canada and the United States who are 23 or under as of Oct. 1, 2016.
The top two finishers in each of Group A and Group B will advance to the Semifinals (Sept. 24-25), where each qualifier will face an elimination game against a team from the other Group. The two Semifinal winners will meet in the Final, a best-of-three series on Sept. 27, Sept. 29 and, if necessary, Oct. 1.
Media Contacts: Diane Lamb at [email protected] or (860)-766-2245 (@Diane_ESPN);
Michael Skarka at [email protected] or (860)-766-1342 (@Michael_ESPN)