Monday, 12 November 2018

Steps Forward

On a day before Jayna Hefford will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, there was another major announcement that has, in my view, taken far too long to announce. This is not an indictment on the New York Islanders or MSG Networks in any way as their announcement shows serious progress, but the fact that this is major news seems like there's still an uphill battle being fought when it comes to putting smart, knowledgeable women in places of prominence regarding men's hockey. Let me be the first to say that MSG Networks has made an excellent personnel decision on this one.

Jennifer Botterill, three-time Olympic gold medalist, has agreed to join MSG Networks' coverage of the New York Islanders for the remainder of this season as a studio analyst, beginning with Tuesday night's game against the Canucks. She'll join AJ Mleczko, her former Harvard teammate, in the studio for approximately 20 games, as per Neil Best's Newsday story, and will be part of MSG Plus' coverage team alongside Shannon Hogan.

"I'm thrilled for the opportunity to join MSG Networks and the exceptional New York Islanders broadcast team," Botterill said in a statement. "It's a tremendous honor to be able to cover the Islanders, one of the NHL's iconic franchises, and work alongside the entire MSG Networks' Islanders family."

I, too, am thrilled for Jennifer as she has shown great insight and ability on broadcasts in the past on CBC, TSN, and Sportsnet, and I think she and Mleczko will bring a wealth of talent to the studio production for MSG Networks. This hiring is not only a good move when it comes to moving the needle in men's professional sports, but it shows that MSG Networks is interested in hiring the best analysts and people to make their broadcasts better regardless of gender.

"We are excited to have four-time Olympic medalist Jennifer Botterill join the MSG Networks family and bring her insightful analysis to our Islanders coverage this season," Jeff Filippi, MSG Networks Senior Vice President of Programming and Production and Executive Producer, made in a statement of his own. "Jennifer is an incredibly smart and dynamic broadcaster who will prove to be a perfect addition to our Islanders broadcast team."

As you may be aware, AJ Mleczko was in the broadcast booth for select Nashville Predators games last season where she was an analyst, so MSG Networks is putting together some of the best talent in the industry when it comes to female broadcasters. Having Botterill and Mleczko work side-by-side has me cheering not only for the two women, but for the Islanders going forward.

As you may be aware, all of the Manitoba Bisons women's hockey games have the play-by-play handled by former Bisons sniper Kyleigh Palmer, and there are things in the works to make our broadcasts even better with Kyleigh as the centerpiece of those future developments. As it stands, Kyleigh is the only female play-by-play broadcaster in Canada West this season, and UMFM and Bisons Sports are proud of the work she is doing. Make sure you tune in on UMFM or Canada West TV to hear her great calls this season!

Kudos to MSG Networks on getting one of the best in the business in Jennifer Botterill. That's a massive get when it comes to analysts, and I can't wait to hear her analyses on the Islanders!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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