Former NHL player and coach Barry Melrose will be stepping away from his longtime position as a color commentator for ESPN after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The 67-year-old analyst originally joined the network in 1996.
ESPN broadcaster John Buccigross announced the news on the social media platform X, revealing that Melrose will be off-camera and spending time with his family for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve worked with Barry at ESPN for over a quarter century,” Buccigross said. “Cold beers and hearty laughs in smokey cigar bars. A razor-sharp wit, he was always early & looked like a million bucks. I love him. I’ll miss him.”
That sentiment has been shared by many of Barry Melrose’s former colleagues players, and employers… and (of course), by thousands of NHL fans.
Barry Melrose has Parkinson's disease and is stepping away from our ESPN family to spend more time with his. I've worked with Barry at ESPN for over a quarter century. Cold beers and hearty laughs in smokey cigar bars. A razor sharp wit, he was always early & looked like a… pic.twitter.com/gjjSAEuG2s
— BucciOT.Com (@Buccigross) October 10, 2023
Known for his dapper dress and domineering demeanor, Barry Melrose transcended the game. And while there’s no denying his accomplishments on the ice and behind the bench, it was as a personality where he truly shined. He was an onscreen ambassador for the game, there to both educate and entertain the audience – mullet and all.
His brash persona and genuine joy regarding the game made him the perfect face of an NHL broadcast. For many fans, he was a bit like the ‘John Madden of Hockey’ – the everyman who broke down the action the same way you and your buddies would at a sports bar. He was genuine. That’s what endeared him to the folks watching at home… and what made him seem so warm in the midst of one of the iciest sports in the world
“Barry is a unique, one-of-a-kind person. And hockey on ESPN won’t be the same without him,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said upon learning the news. “Barry’s gigantic personality and trademark style have made our game bigger, more exciting, and more entertaining.”
During his playing days. Melrose suited up for the Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Detroit Red Wings in the NHL, and for the Cincinnati Stingers in the short-lived World Hockey Association. He then famously coached Wayne Gretzky during three memorable seasons with the Los Angeles Kings.
In his first season with the LA hockey club, he guided them to the Stanley Cup Finals, before ultimately falling to the Montreal Canadiens in five games. He would later return to coach the Tampa Bay Lightning for just 16 games in 2008, before ultimately going back to ESPN.
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