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John Buccigross: Calling NHL Games Has Me ‘Pumped’ For ESPN Again

“It’s been a moment that he has been preparing for over the last 15 years since he went to his bosses and asked to call hockey games at the collegiate level.”

Ricky Keeler

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For the first time since 2004, ESPN will be back broadcasting NHL games. Starting on October 12, fans will hear the iconic theme song once again. One of the main voices you will hear as either a play-by-play broadcaster or in the studio is John Buccigross, who hosted NHL 2Nite on ESPN2 from 1998 to 2004. 

It was announced on Thursday that Buccigross will be hosting a show called The Pointwhich will air every Thursdays on ESPN2 and daily during the first week of the season. 

This week, John Buccigross was a guest on The Athletic Hockey Show with Craig Custance and Sean Gentille to talk about the return of the NHL to the Worldwide Leader and he thinks it couldn’t have happened at a better time in his career.

“I’ve been in the biz for 32 years, ESPN for 25. I’m 55 years old and to be this pumped about going to work again, that’s kind of rare, I think for any occupation. For me, my battery is full, so I don’t mind taking those flights and going to games and a chance to do a bunch of play-by-play here at least in the early part of the season. I’m so excited. I can’t believe it is actually happening,” said Buccigross. 

It’s been a moment that he has been preparing for over the last 15 years since he went to his bosses and asked to call hockey games at the collegiate level.

With ESPN now one of the rights holders for the NHL, John Buccigross believes that the excitement won’t just be felt in promos and game coverage. He thinks it will translate to the play on the ice as well.

 “I knew ESPN would give the entire league a little bit of an infusion. I know the players wanted to be on the network. That was part of the optimism…I think you can see some really fun, inspired play once the season starts and they see that TNT/ESPN banner and I think it’s going to translate at least early into some really spirited play.”

When ESPN had the rights, they were the only ones broadcasting NHL games. Now with TNT in the picture, Buccigross believes having a rival will be a good thing for both networks and can push people, especially analysts to be on their A game.

“We haven’t had a rival to compete with in hockey. It’s been a cheap enough product where one network can buy the whole thing. That’s a cool part of it and I think will push both sides and I hope push the analysts in-studio because that’s a tough job and you have to be good in short bits and entertaining and funny and serious.”

As for possible broadcast options during the season, John Buccigross believes that ESPN or even TNT could do something similar to the ManningCast that we’ve seen for Monday Night Football games: 

“I can see TNT maybe one night offering counter-programming showing Charles Barkley watching a game with maybe a writer or someone else (Wayne Gretzky) or a player on an off-night and you can have those three watch a game somewhere else or tape it and show the greatest hits. That can be something ESPN or TNT decides to do. We can do it at ESPN because we have so many outlets. There’s limitless inventory and space for us to do it.” 

The ESPN NHL regular season schedule begins with a doubleheader on October 12 as the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the two-time defending champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m ET, ESPN) followed by the new expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, against the Vegas Golden Knights (10 p.m). 

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Stephen A. Smith: ‘I Had To Wait Until My Mother Passed to Write My Book’

“I’ve never ran before, so there was no way I was going to start with this book.”

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An autobiography from Stephen A. Smith is due in stores early next year. Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes is an all-encompassing look at the First Take star’s life from his childhood to today.

Smith appreciates privacy and has been hesitant to talk about his personal life in the past. Occasionally he has made exceptions for shows hosted by friends and people in the business that he respects.

On Wednesday’s episode of First Take, Stephen A. Smith said that was largely due to a promise he made to his mother.

“She told me never to write a book until she passed away, because she knows I’m gonna say what I need to say,” he told Molly Qerim and Chris Russo. “I’m gonna speak my mind and I’m gonna speak my truth. There are things in there that she would not have wanted me to reveal while she was alive.”

He added that writing it made him more uncomfortable than he anticipated.

“There’s a lot in there that I didn’t want to tell, but if you gonna write a book, you gotta tell it.”

Russo joked that clearly Smith is excited. He had texted the New York radio legend the cover and some information about the book earlier in the summer.

Qerim has received some of that material too. She told Smith that what she has seen and read is very impressive.

“This is huge, and I’m proud of you. It’s hard to tell. I know you’ve kept your personal life close to the vest. For you to open up, I think people are going to respect you even more when they learn more about you.”

Stephen A. Smith noted that in addition to his childhood and his professional triumphs, the book will also revisit the controversies that surrounded him at points in his career. He noted the goal of the book was not necessarily to make him look good, but to help people better understand the man they see on TV each morning.

“I’ve never ran before, so there was no way I was going to start with this book,” Smith said.

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Golf Channel, Brandel Chamblee Facing Defamation Lawsuit From Patrick Reed

During a Golf Channel broadcast, Chamblee had reportedly accused Reed of cheating during the Hero World Challenge after being assessed a two-stroke penalty for improving his ball placement in a bunker.

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Golf Channel and analyst Brandel Chamblee are being sued by golfer Patrick Reed after Reed alleged “misreporting information with falsity and/or reckless disregard of the truth” by the network and Chamblee.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Reed claims Golf Channel, Chamblee, and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan have conspired against him since he joined the PGA Tour while trying to “destroy his reputation, create hate and a hostile work environment for him”.

Reed, who has faced cheating allegations dating back to his college golf days, had his legal representation send a cease-and-desist letter to Chamblee in 2020. During a Golf Channel broadcast, Chamblee had reportedly accused Reed of cheating during the Hero World Challenge after being assessed a two-stroke penalty for improving his ball placement in a bunker. Reed claimed he did not intend to improve his lie.

Reed, 2018 winner of The Masters, alleges that Chamblee’s allegations have caused fans to heckle him and label him a cheater at events.

Patrick Reed defected from the PGA Tour in June to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf organization. He is seeking $750 million in damages.

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Joe Girardi Joining Marquee Sports Network

“I’m excited to join Marquee and look forward to working alongside Boog, JD, and Taylor this weekend at Wrigley Field,” said Girardi.

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Marquee Sports Network has announced that former Chicago Cubs catcher, and Marlins, Yankees, and Phillies manager Joe Girardi is joining the network as a game analyst. Girardi will work this weekends series between the Cubs and Brewers, as well as a series against the Marlins in September.

Girardi has previously worked as an analyst for YES Network, MLB Network, and Fox Sports.

“I’m excited to join Marquee and look forward to working alongside Boog, JD, and Taylor this weekend at Wrigley Field,” said Girardi. “Growing up a Cubs fan and then having the chance to play for the team for a number of years, I’m honored to now have the opportunity to broadcast from the historic television broadcast booth.”

After a three-time World Series winner as a player, Girardi spent 15 seasons in the big leagues, seven of which came with the Cubs. The former catcher has spent parts of 14 seasons as a manager with the Marlins, Yankees, and Phillies. Girardi was fired as the manager of the Phillies on June 3rd.

“We’re pleased to welcome Joe Girardi to the Marquee Sports Network team,” said Marquee Sports Network General Manager, Mike McCarthy. “His insights as a long-time Cubs player and big league manager will be a valuable addition to the broadcasts. Welcome Joe!”

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