Despite Connor McDavid scoring over 100 points in the pandemic-shortened season, the Edmonton Oilers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Winnipeg Jets.
Kyle Connor scored in triple overtime to give the Jets the series. The Oilers’ devastating loss set in motion a series of moves that will shape NHL hockey coverage for years to come.
On Tuesday, Wayne Gretzky resigned as the Edmonton Oilers’ vice chairman.
With great appreciation, I wanted to let everyone know that I have decided to step away as Vice Chairman of the Edmonton Oilers effective today.
The Oilers, their fans, and the city of Edmonton have meant the world to me and my family for over four decades – and that will never end. Given the pandemic and other life changes, I realize I will not be able to dedicate the time nor effort needed to support this world-class organization.
I want to thank Daryl & Renee Katz, their family, and entire team for all the support and friendship these last several years, and wish them nothing but success.
— Wayne Gretzky (@WayneGretzky) May 25, 2021
Now we know what those “other life changes” are. Gretzky has signed a multi-year agreement with Turner Sports to become the media giant’s lead hockey analyst as the league transitions to ESPN and TNT next season.
— TurnerSportsPR (@TurnerSportsPR) May 26, 2021
“I’ve long admired Turner Sports’ coverage of the NBA, among other sports, and I’m thrilled to be joining the studio team in their inaugural NHL season,” Gretzky said in a statement. “This is an exciting opportunity to share my experiences and perspectives on the game I will always cherish, while hopefully informing and entertaining fans along the way.”
Gretzky will jump into the position at an interesting time. Turner Sports will be attempting to grow the game to a new and bigger audience. Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin will be gunning for Gretzky’s all-time goals record of 894, giving the Great One an opportunity to comment on the chase regularly.
According to an Associated Press story, Gretzky and his wife Janet moved from California to Missouri earlier in the year to be closer to their mother-in-law who is 99. The couple’s two grandchildren live in South Florida.
“We just felt like, after the passing of my dad, and my youngest going to college this year, maybe this is a good time to move. We’ve kind of become empty nesters,” Gretzky said. “Atlanta is an hour from Florida and an hour from St. Louis. So I guess the stars were aligned. We get to spend a lot of time with our family, and I get to do what I love to do, which is talk about hockey.”
Gretzky was also pitched on joining Turner Sports by his friend and neighbor Charles Barkley, who serves as a basketball analyst for Turner Sports’ wildly popular pre and postgame basketball shows.
Joining Gretzky at Turner Sports are Kenny Albert and Eddie Olczyk, formerly of NBC, who will be the lead commentators.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take… https://t.co/HipJ8lz3lV
— Wayne Gretzky (@WayneGretzky) May 26, 2021
“The Great One” Wayne Gretzky, Kenny Albert & Eddie Olczyk Join the Turner Sports NHL Team
The NHL is coming to Turner Sports’ networks and platforms later this year and the first additions to the roster of studio and game commentators are in place. Turner Sports and Wayne Gretzky have reached a multi-year agreement for “The Great One” to offer studio analysis during key moments of the NHL regular season and throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Additionally, veteran play-by-play commentator Kenny Albert and analyst Eddie Olczyk will call live games for Turner Sports throughout the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs, airing on TNT and TBS.
“The world’s best hockey league is coming to Turner Sports later this year and the exciting additions of Wayne, Kenny and Eddie will jumpstart our NHL coverage with some of the best and biggest talents in the sport,” said Tara August, Senior Vice President of Talent Relations and Special Projects, Turner Sports. “Their incomparable experiences within the game and unparalleled depth of knowledge will bring a distinct dimension to our game and studio coverage. We’re thrilled to welcome them to the Turner Sports family.”
“I’ve long admired Turner Sports’ coverage of the NBA, among other sports, and I’m thrilled to be joining the studio team in their inaugural NHL season,” said Gretzky. “This is an exciting opportunity to share my experiences and perspectives on the game I will always cherish, while hopefully informing and entertaining fans along the way.”
“Calling the NHL’s biggest games – including the Stanley Cup Final – has been a lifelong dream since I was five years old,” said Albert. “I look forward to this tremendous opportunity with Turner Sports and can’t wait for the puck to drop on the 2021-22 season! Becoming a teammate of ‘The Great One’ and sharing the broadcast booth with Eddie Olczyk – one of the best analysts in all of sports and a long-time friend and colleague of mine – is the icing on the cake!”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Turner Sports family and its coverage of the NHL,” said Olczyk. “I’m equally thrilled to be on the same team with ‘The Great One’ for the first time in my career; that’s just tremendously tremendous! Thanks to everyone at Turner Sports for all of their efforts in assembling this amazing team.”
Announced in April, Turner Sports’ multi-year NHL agreement includes crowning a champion through its exclusive live coverage of the Stanley Cup Final on TNT in three of the seven years; half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs each year (half of the Conference Finals, First and Second Round games); rights to up to 72 exclusive national regular season games each season; and expansive digital and highlight rights for Bleacher Report, House of Highlights and additional platforms. TNT will also exclusively present the NHL Winter Classic each year, among other live events.
Additional live game and studio coverage details, along with programming plans, will be announced in the months ahead.
Gretzky, considered the greatest to ever play hockey, will contribute in-depth studio analysis during key moments of the NHL regular season and throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs on TNT and TBS. “The Great One” played 20 seasons in the NHL, including winning four Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, and is the NHL’s all-time leading scorer with the most goals and assists in a career. He won a record nine Hart Trophies as the most valuable player in the NHL, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame immediately following his retirement in 1999.
Albert will bring his more than 30 years in sports broadcasting to Turner Sports as lead play-by-play commentator for its NHL telecasts. He is considered one of the most versatile broadcasters in sports and is the only national play-by-play broadcaster who calls hockey, football, basketball, baseball, and boxing. Albert has also served as the radio play-by-play voice of the New York Rangers since 1995. His hockey broadcasting career began in 1990 as play-by-play commentator for the Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League, eventually leading to calling NHL games for the Washington Capitals and nationally for Fox and NBC. He has called seven Stanley Cup Finals on national radio, more than 400 NFL games on Fox including five Divisional Playoff games, five MLB Divisional Series and the New York Knicks. The two-time national Emmy Award nominee has also served as play-by-play announcer for men’s and women’s ice hockey at five Winter Olympic Games for NBC.
Olczyk will be lead analyst for Turner Sports’ coverage of the NHL throughout the regular season, the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Stanley Cup Final. Olczyk played 16 seasons in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994. Following his playing career, he joined the Pittsburgh Penguins game broadcasts for Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh and provided analysis for ESPN, ESPN2 and NHL Radio. Olczyk was head coach of the Penguins from 2003-05, before returning to the broadcast booth in 2006 with NBC and the Chicago Blackhawks as lead hockey analyst for both, respectively, the last 15 years. A stage III colon cancer survivor, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
About Turner Sports
Turner Sports, a division of WarnerMedia, is an industry leader in the delivery of premium sports content across all platforms, widely recognized for its expansive partnerships with the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship and the National Hockey League. The Turner Sports portfolio also includes Bleacher Report, the #1 digital destination for young sports fans driving engagement and video views across all social platforms and the B/R app, with premier brands including House of Highlights, B/R Football, B/R Gridiron, B/R Kicks, B/R Betting, B/R Walk-Off, and B/R Gaming. Turner Sports co-manages NBA Digital – comprised of NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA LEAGUE Pass, the NBA App and NBAGLEAGUE.com – as well as NCAA.com and the NCAA March Madness Live suite of products. Visit the Turner Sports online pressroom for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR.
Headline photo courtesy of @aleksandrovechkinofficial
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