Ah, nostalgia. People love it. And there’s a lot of it going around right now in the hockey world.
ESPN is back covering hockey as a rightsholder after a 16-year hiatus (along with Turnerr). Commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Monday during his annual Stanley Cup Final press conference that the network will kick off its return by covering the Kraken’s expansion draft on July 21 and the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft on July 23.
On Tuesday, the network announced its lineup for the upcoming NHL season. It showcases a diverse cast including Olympic gold medalists Hilary Knight, A.J. Mleczko and Cassie Campbell-Pascal, Stanley Cup champions Mark Messier and Chris Chelios and a few that were there during the first go-around in Linda Cohn, John Buccigross, Barry Melrose, Steve Levy and Ray Ferraro.
But, for nostalgia’s sake, it was missing one key guy: Gary Thorne.
Thorne was a mainstay on ESPN’s coverage back in the day, doing play-by-play for the network including the Stanley Cup Final from 1993-04 (except for 1995 which was on Fox). He famously called the Rangers 54-year drought-ender in 1994 and the Red Wings Cup win 1997.
Up until recently, the 73-year-old called Orioles games on MASN from 2007 through the 2019 season. His contract was not renewed in January 2021 after a contract dispute kept him off the air in 2020.
So, when one of the iconic voices of hockey (who seems to not have much to do these days) wasn’t included in ESPN’s roster, fans voiced their displeasure.
Great Day #1 line up.
Leah Hextall was great during the NCAA’s this spring. Especially the UMD-UND game.
The return of Mr. Overtime, Steve Levy, is a welcome sight as well.
Only one missing is Gary Thorne 🥲 https://t.co/sDYWo4L56A
— Alex Westad (@AlexWestad) June 29, 2021
This is a really good lineup but a whole generation is gonna watch hockey without hearing Gary Thorne call a game and that makes me sad https://t.co/BivhVHxivO
— Trill Foden (@JoshLinnESR) June 29, 2021