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Sean McDonough: Lack of Energy Criticism ‘Bothered Me’

The Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers have faced off in an intense, hard-fought Stanley Cup Final series. Broadcast by ESPN on ABC and streaming on ESPN+, the games have featured the NHL on ESPN commentary team of play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough, analyst Ray Ferraro, reporter Emily Kaplan and rules analyst Dave Jackson.

During the broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final last Thursday, viewers felt that McDonough sounded under the weather, an observation that ESPN confirmed to be the case the next day. Nonetheless, McDonough was able to call the Panthers’ 4-3 victory in Game 3 and went behind the microphone two days later for the fourth game of the series. In a recent interview on Schein on Sports on SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio, McDonough explained how he was feeling and being able to execute his role.

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“I’m still a little under the weather, but we’re powering through it,” McDonough said. “It’s the playoffs – everybody’s playing hurt, certainly all the players are. It’s a grind – [the] playoffs started two months ago. We’re on the charter coming back from Edmonton here to Fort Lauderdale yesterday, and I would say as you walked up and down the aisle on that plane, half the people were coughing or clearing their throat or sneezing, so a lot of stuff going around.”

McDonough expressed his gratitude for Oilers head athletic therapist T.D. Forss and their doctor with how they helped to have him ready to call Game 4. By the time the game started, he felt a lot better and ended up calling an 8-1 Oilers victory to extend the series to a fifth game. Schein remarked that McDonough sounded incredible, which led the ESPN play-by-play announcer to mention a criticism he has been receiving from fans on social media.

“Well you know what, it just kind of bothered me – not that you should pay attention [to it] – but people [said], ‘Well, you’ve got a lack of energy,’” McDonough conveyed. “Yeah, I’m really not excited to call a Stanley Cup Final game. I’ve been doing this for, I don’t know, 30-something years now. I hope people who’ve heard me over the years know that’s not the way I usually sound, and maybe I shouldn’t have tried to power through it.”

McDonough divulged that it was a collaborative decision to have him try to call Game 3 of the series and is glad that it is behind him at this point. Schein was incredulous towards the criticism, remarking how McDonough has excelled in big spots on monumental events in the past such as the World Series, Michigan-Michigan State game and Monday Night Football. McDonough remarked that he read an article instructing consumers how to call a goal in the Stanley Cup Final, leading him to question if the author watched Game 2 of the series. He tries not to let it bother him and felt that by discussing the narrative, they were giving it more life.

“We do this to do the biggest games at the biggest moments, and the fun part, one of the many fun parts of the job, is when the big moments come, either you nail them or you don’t, and that’s what I love about it,” McDonough said, “and I’ve been lucky to be in the right place at the right time for a lot of really exciting games over the years.”

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