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Barry Melrose Stepping Away from ESPN After Parkinson’s Diagnosis

Barry Melrose, a studio analyst for coverage of the National Hockey League on ESPN, will be stepping away from the network as he endures a battle with Parkinson’s disease. During this difficult time, he will spend time with his own family and therefore end his tenure with the property. John Buccigross, his ESPN colleague and longtime friend, made the announcement on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday ahead of the network’s season opening tripleheader.

“I’ve had over 50 extraordinary years playing, coaching and analyzing the world’s greatest game – hockey,” Melrose said in a statement. It’s now time to hang up my skates and focus on my health, my family, including my supportive wife Cindy, and whatever comes next. I’m beyond grateful for my hockey career, and to have called ESPN home for almost 30 years. Thanks for the incredible memories, and I’ll now be cheering from you from the stands.”

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“Barry has had a connection to the sport for an astonishing 50 years as a player, coach and analyst, and he has left an indelible mark both on and off the ice,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “We wish him and his family the very best.”

Melrose first joined ESPN in 1996 after serving as the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings for the preceding three years. Over a seven-year span, he called various regular-season and playoff games for both ESPN and ABC Sports before moving into the studio to provide analysis for select telecasts. In June 2008, he briefly left the network to take the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Lightning and made his return upon being relieved of his duties shortly thereafter. Since then, he has regularly appeared on programming such as SportsCenter and ESPNEWS, and was known for working with Steve Levy in giving reports annually from the Stanley Cup Final.

“For years, I’d walk around the Stanley Cup Final with Barry Melrose,” Levy told Barrett Sports Media in an interview last November. “He was like a rockstar because he’s Barry Melrose. He’s got the clothes [and] he’s got the hair.”

“Barry is a unique, one-of-a-kind person,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “And hockey on ESPN won’t be the same without him. … His love for hockey is obvious and infectious. And it is impossible to have a conversation with him without a smile on your face. Barry, we wish you well in this fight and know you will give it everything you have — as you always do.”

Melrose played 10 years of professional hockey in both the NHL and World Hockey Association (WHL) and ended his career with the Detroit Red Wings. The vast knowledge and passion for the game allowed him to contribute to college hockey broadcasts as well, a display of versatility within the sport.

“I’ve worked with Barry at ESPN for over a quarter-century,” Buccigross added on X. “Cold beers and hearty laughs in smokey cigar bars. A razor sharp wit, he was always early and looked like a million bucks. I love him; I’ll miss him. Wayne Gretzky on a life dedicated to hockey.”

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