NHL Referees and Linesmen will be mic’d up on ESPN this season.
ESPN has already committed to a number of broadcast features to enhance the viewing experience at home, including in-game on-ice cameras, player mics during warm-ups, and locker room cameras during pre-game and intermissions.
They’re expanding those mics to both players and officials during warm-ups and throughout select games.
One ref who will have a dedicated mic is retired NHL referee Dave Jackson, who will be back in the booth as the network’s Rules Analyst. Glad to see the Quebec native returning; his insight and feedback are a terrific addition to the broadcast, leveraging his 28 years of NHL officiating experience and his thorough knowledge and understanding of the rule book.
Here’s the rest of the broadcast team:
ESPN’s play-by-play commentary will again be led by the award-winning Sean McDonough, with Steve Levy leading the studio team and calling several games throughout the season, and John Buccigross, Bob Wischusen and Leah Hextall continuing add their voices to play-by-play for select games.
Hockey Hall of Famers Mark Messier and Chris Chelios return this season as part of an analyst lineup that boasts nine Stanley Cups, 10 Olympic medals and three collegiate national championships, including former NHL player and coach, and ESPN legend Barry Melrose, along with Ray Ferraro, Brian Boucher, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Kevin Weekes, Ryan Callahan, A.J. Mleczko, Rick DiPietro, Hilary Knight, Dominic Moore, and former NHL referee and ESPN rules analyst, Dave Jackson.
ESPN newcomer Ryan S. Clark joins ESPN NHL reporters and writers Greg Wyshynski, Kristen Shilton, Blake Bolden, and Emily Kaplan, who also continues rinkside reporting duties.
One thing we’re still missing: the ref cam. Having that visual look at the action from the officials’ point of view always provided great perspective on the play — and the sightlines officials are dealing with when making calls.
After limited use for a handful of seasons, the NHL shelved the ref cam, reportedly due to issues with the added weight. Unlike a small self-contained device like a GoPro, the NHL’s units needed to deliver live, broadcast-quality video, with required the additional weight of batteries and transmitters. Let’s hope they can continue to refine the technology to develop a smaller, lighter ref cam down the road.
Just watch those hot mics, boys…