Early this week, information was released indicating a groundbreaking hire for ESPN for the coming 2021-22 National Hockey League season. According to multiple reports, Brandon, Manitoba’s own Leah Hextall will join the team as a regular play-by-play commentator for national markets.
This would make the 40-year-old Hextall the very first female to hold a regular play-by-play role on the national stage. Last season, on International Women’s Day she joined the likes of Cassie Campbell and Christine Simpson as the play-by-play voice of the all-female Canadian broadcast of the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights game, on the same day that Kate Scott, Kendall Coyne and AJ Mleczko called the first all-female game in the United States.
Working for ESPN in the past, Hextall served as a behind-the-mic reporter at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, while also calling play-by-play at the United States’ NCAA Men’s Hockey National Championships.
The exact number of games that Hextall will call, nor the markets of said games has yet to be released.
Formerly serving with CTV Winnipeg, CJOB 680, the Brandon Wheat Kings, NESN and the CWHL, Hextall is reportedly joining former Wheat Kings forward Ray Ferraro and Brian Boucher as fellow recent hires by ESPN for the coming 2021-22 season. ESPN and TNT will share the NHL’s broadcast rights agreement in the United States beginning next season, with NBC no longer in the picture.