A Fresh New Voice
Meet the newest ESPN play-by-play announcer for NHL games in the 2021-2022 season: Leah Hextall
A Giant Step Forward for NHL, ESPN
Meet Leah Hextall: For hockey fans who aren’t familiar with the name Leah Hextall, they certainly will be seeing and hearing more from her in the years to come. Leah Hextall is arguably known more for her last name than her accomplishments in broadcasting but as her history has shown, she is quickly creating a trailblazing path for herself and other women in the broadcasting industry. It was reported by the New York Post recently that Leah Hextall has signed on with ESPN to become the first woman play-by-play announcer for a national audience. Leah is the cousin of former Philadelphia Flyer goaltender Ron Hextall and she has been in the broadcasting industry for nearly 20 years.
Tell Me More: For a sport that is trying to rapidly become more inclusive, the hiring of Hextall definitely adds to this narrative, but that shouldn’t discount her rather large body of work. Over the past two decades, her work has taken her to stops in Winnipeg, Boston, Toronto, and most recently, she was the play-by-play announcer in the longest game in NCAA’s hockey history when she called the 5OT game between Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota back in March. While working with Rogers Sportsnet in 2020, Hextall made history on International Women’s Day when she, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, and Christine Simpson became the first all-female announcing lineup to broadcast a national game between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Calgary Flames.
What Does This Mean for the Hockey Broadcasting Industry? It’s hard to view the news of Hextall’s hiring as anything but a positive for broadcasting and the game of hockey. We’ve seen a dramatic rise in the inclusion of women in the game of hockey from Kendall Coyne Schofield participating in the Fastest Skater competition at the NHL Skills Competition to the rise of female voices in broadcasting including, but not limited to, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Jennifer Botterill, Sherry Ross, and A.J. Mleczko, to name a few. The inclusion of female voices in the game of hockey shouldn’t also underscore the support NHL players have recently shown for the NWHL. Going forward, it’s reasonable and likely to expect a growing presence of female contributors to the game of hockey and whether that be on the ice or up in the announcer’s booth, it really is great news for hockey and hockey fans.
Insider Updates & Analysis
Weigh In: Should Sam Bennett have been suspended 1 playoff game for his hit from behind on Blake Coleman?
Deep Dive: Nikita Kucherov is back for the playoffs. But did the Lightning purposely circumvent the salary cap?
Update: Find out what another NHL first was for one of the league’s most forward-thinking franchises.
Update: As they work their way back from injury, find out how Brendan Gallagher and Carey Price did in their first AHL game.
Update: Hip hop and hockey? Check out the NHL’s new playoff anthem here.
A Question for the Peanut Gallery
What female play-by-play announcer would you like to see get a national shot at calling hockey games?