Gary Thorne interested in return to NHL broadcasting with ESPN

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The NHL's new landmark broadcast and streaming agreement with ESPN has caught the attention of Gary Thorne.

The legendary announcer and former voice of the NHL on ESPN said he would be interested in returning to the booth to call hockey games.

"I'd love to talk to them about it," Thorne told The Athletic's Richard Deitsch.

He added: "I'd love to talk about it with ESPN and see what direction they're going to take with it, what the schedule is going to look like, all of that. But from the primary foundational question of, 'Is that something that interests me?' Yes, it does."

The NHL and ESPN announced a seven-year agreement reportedly worth more than $2.8 billion Wednesday. The pact gives the network exclusive rights to broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals on ABC between 2022 and 2028, as well as simulcast capabilities on ESPN+, among other rights.

Thorne was ESPN's lead NHL announcer from 1992-2004, calling all but one Stanley Cup Final in that span. He was on the mic for some of the most memorable calls of that era, including Ray Bourque winning the Stanley Cup after 22 years in 2001 and Paul Kariya's iconic "off the floor, on the board" goal in 2003.

The 72-year-old also featured in EA Sports' NHL video game series for several years.

Thorne has worked for MLB's Baltimore Orioles for the last 14 seasons but was told over the offseason he wouldn't be returning to the club. The timing of his availability and ESPN's NHL venture has some hockey fans calling for his return online.

"Yeah, that's pretty humbling, honestly," Thorne said of the support. "My phone lit up all night from friends who do tweet and are on the platforms, which I am not. They were telling me this was going on. I was like, 'Wow.' I'm just so happy that people have remembered and have those kinds of positive memories about the time that ... and our crew were doing the games."

Gary Thorne interested in return to NHL broadcasting with ESPN
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