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ESPN’s Barry Melrose retires after Parkinson’s diagnosis

ESPN hockey analyst and former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose announced he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and is retiring from the network.

The announcement came just hours before the puck dropped on the 2023-24 NHL season.

Known for his colorful personality and flowing mullet, Melrose had been with ESPN since 1996 — save for a short return to coaching with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008.

“I’ve had over 50 extraordinary years playing, coaching and analyzing the world’s greatest game, hockey. 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,” Melrose, 67, said in a statement.

“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 for you from the stands.”

Parkinson’s disease is “an age-related degenerative brain condition, meaning it causes parts of your brain to deteriorate. It’s best known for causing slowed movements, tremors, balance problems and more,” according to Cleveland Clinic.

Melrose guided the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1993, a five-game loss to the Montreal Canadiens. He posted a 79-101-29 record during his two-plus seasons with the Kings (1992-95) and returned to the bench to coach the Lightning for 16 games (5-7-4) in 2008. He returned to ESPN in 2009.

“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. “We wish him and his family the very best.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman credited Melrose as a “unique, one-of-a-kind person.”

“For nearly 50 years, as a player, coach and broadcaster, Barry’s gigantic personality and trademark style have made our game bigger, more exciting and more entertaining. His love for hockey is obvious and infectious. And it is impossible to have a conversation with him without a smile on your face,” Bettman said.

“Barry, we wish you well in this fight and know you will give it everything you have — as you always do.”

Melrose, a defenseman, recorded 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) in 300 career games with the Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.

–Field Level Media

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