One of ESPN's first hires for its future NHL broadcasts is a historic one.
The network is bringing on Leah Hextall to do play-by-play in addition to other roles, reports the New York Post's Andrew Marchand.
She will be the first female play-by-play voice to be regularly involved in a national NHL TV broadcast package, according to Marchand. It's unknown how many games she'll call when ESPN's new TV and multimedia rights deal with the league begins next season.
Hextall has been a broadcaster for nearly two decades. She became the first woman in Canada to do play-by-play for a nationally televised NHL game last season, working a game between the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights. She was also the first woman to call the NCAA men's hockey tournament when she did so for ESPN.
The network reportedly hired Ray Ferraro and Brian Boucher as lead analysts from TSN and NBC, respectively, last week.
Hextall's trailblazing accomplishment follows similar strides by female broadcasters in other sports. Beth Mowins has called the NFL for CBS, as well as Chicago Cubs games. Lisa Byington became the first woman to call the NCAA men's basketball tournament when she did that this past March.
The Walt Disney Company, which owns ESPN, signed a seven-year deal with the NHL to be its primary broadcast partner beginning in 2021-22. TNT followed suit with a seven-year contract of its own with the league. The NHL's current rightsholder, NBC, will not be part of the new agreement when its pact expires at the end of this season.