Report: Leah Hextall Joins ESPN; Will Be 1st Woman in National NHL Play-by-Play Role

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMay 17, 2021

A hockey puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

Leah Hextall will be the first woman to do play-by-play as a regular part of a national NHL TV package after agreeing to a deal with ESPN, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.

Hextall was the first woman to announce the NCAA men's hockey tournament for ESPN in 2019. She was also the first woman in Canada to call a national NHL broadcast for SportsNet.

She was recently picked to cover the regional games for ESPN on the road to the 2021 men's Frozen Four.

Hextall has been broadcasting games for 17 years and comes from a hockey background. Her grandfather, Bryan Hextall, played 11 years for the New York Rangers and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1968. Longtime Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ron Hextall is her cousin.

Her experience will the sport will be valuable as ESPN becomes a home for NHL broadcasts.

The network agreed to a $2.8 billion deal in March for rights to games over the next seven seasons. The deal will put four of the next seven Stanley Cup Finals on either ESPN or ABC while half the playoffs and plenty of regular-season games will be shown on the Disney family of networks, including ESPN+.