In 2018, NHL referee Dave Jackson hung up his skates. Now he’s picking up a mic.
Hot on the heels of TNT hiring retired ref Don Koharski, ESPN has announced that Jackson will be joining their broadcast team as a rules analyst for the 2021-22 season.
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) October 1, 2021
Jackson joins an all-star lineup, including a number of players who took the ice while he was wielding the whistle. From ESPN:
ESPN’s play-by-play commentary will be led by the award-winning Sean McDonough, with Steve Levy leading the studio team and calling several games throughout the season. John Buccigross, Bob Wischusen and Leah Hextall will also add their voices to play-by-play. The versatile Hextall was part of ESPN’s NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship and World Cup of Hockey coverage since 2016, and she will also serve as a reporter for some games throughout the season.
Showcasing a diverse and unparalleled mix of experience and hockey credentials, ESPN’s NHL analyst team boasts a collective nine Stanley Cups, 10 Olympic medals and three collegiate national championships. Hockey Hall of Famers Mark Messier and Chris Chelios are part of a lineup who have proven their stardom both on the ice and on the air, including Ray Ferraro, Brian Boucher, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Kevin Weekes, Ryan Callahan, A.J. Mleczko, Rick DiPietro, Hilary Knight, as well as former NHL player and coach, and ESPN legend, Barry Melrose.
ESPN newcomer Blake Bolden, along with Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski, will handle reporting duties.
Hall of Fame sportscaster Linda Cohn will continue to host In the Crease, the signature nightly hockey program on ESPN+, during the NHL season, in addition to anchoring SportsCenter and contributing to NHL coverage and programming across platforms
Jackson, 56, officiated 1,546 regular season games, becoming just the sixth NHL referee to do so. He also tacked on 83 playoff games, along with two All-Star Games (2002, 2018), the 2006 Stadium Series outdoor game between the Red Wings and Avalanche at Denver’s Coors Field, and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Jackson made his NHL debut on December 12, 1990, working a game between the New Jersey Devils and Quebec Nordiques. The Pointe-Claire, Quebec, native currently resides in Colorado.
Kudos to the NHL’s new broadcast partners for addressing a need — understanding and explaining the rules — and bringing in some of those best qualified to assist: former NHL officials.