This afternoon, ESPN announced that Edmonton Oilers legend, Mark Messier, has signed a multi-year deal with the network to help bolster their hockey coverage for the upcoming season.
Now that ESPN will be showing NHL games again as part of the league’s new broadcasting deal was announced earlier this year, they’ve been working on building out their on-air team with the latest announcement coming in the form of six-time Stanley Cup winner Mark Messier.
When asked about the deal, Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor, had this to say about Messier:
“Mark has been one of the NHL’s biggest and most iconic stars, and we are ecstatic to have him be a large part of our upcoming hockey coverage. As a six-time Stanley Cup Champion, he will bring incredible insight, knowledge and analysis to ESPN and The Walt Disney Company that will both resonate with fans, and connect more and more of them to the game and to the league.”
For his part, Messier was excited about the opportunity ahead of him:
“The game of hockey, and the NHL, have afforded me enormous opportunity, success and experiences on the ice and in my life. My passion for the game is as strong as it has ever been and I am looking forward to sharing that passion, plus my insights and analysis with the sport’s incredible fans. The NHL is beginning a new era with ESPN and The Walt Disney Company — with an exciting, evolving game and phenomenally talented players — and I am thrilled to be a part of the team.”
Personally, I think it makes a world of sense for ESPN to hire a name like Mark Messier to help build their coverage down in the States. Just like TNN hiring Gretzky, adding Messier to the roster ensures another name that people will recognize regardless of whether or not they’re fans of the sport and I believe that will go a long way in growing the game. Whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen, but if you’re going to grab an NHL legend and Wayne Gretzky is already off the board, the next guy in line has to be Mark Messier.