NHL's TV Color Analysts: Western Conference Edition
They are the guys that bring expert analysis to our hockey games every night. Many of them previously played in the National Hockey League. Others languished in the minors. Some of them even played with the team they now represent from the booth.
Color analysts know what it's like to compete against the world's best. Some of hockey's current audience may not have been alive or were too young to know what these guys were like as players. Now is your chance to find out. We've already seen the analysts out of the East, now it's time for the Western Conference.
Currently, the Anaheim Ducks color commentator is Brian Hayward, a former goalie in the NHL. In fact, he's the only color analyst the Ducks have had on television since the team began operations in 1993.
Hayward was an All-American at Cornell University. He would eventually earn a business management degree from the school. He was a goaltender for the Winnipeg Jets, Montreal Canadiens, and Minnesota North Stars. Hayward finished out his career by being one of the first netminders in the history of the San Jose Sharks, which started operations in 1991. He retired after the 1992-93 season.
As a player, Tyson Nash was a goal scorer for Kamloops and he showed that scoring touch in the AHL as well. In fact, while in the Western Hockey League, Nash helped the Blazers win three Memorial Cups ('92, '94, '95). But, in the NHL, he was not known for putting the biscuit in the basket. Instead, Nash was an agitator, racking up 673 penalty minutes in 374 career NHL games with the St. Louis Blues and then-called Phoenix Coyotes. More importantly, he aimed to get his opponents to take penalties.
Now, the team (for now) is known as the Arizona Coyotes. Nash, their color commentator for the last six years, retired after the 2006-07 season after finishing a campaign with the AHL's Toronto Marlies.
Hrudey only became the color analyst for Flames hockey in the past year. But, he's been in the hockey world for some time. To start his NHL career, he played five seasons with the New York Islanders ('83-'88). In fact, the goaltender played in the longest game in Islander history. In the 1987 playoffs, the Islanders battled it out with the Washington Capitals through four overtimes before the Isles won. Hrudey made 73 saves in that game to seal the victory. To this day, the game is known as the Easter Epic.
Hrudey spent the bulk of his time playing for the Los Angeles Kings ('88-'96) before he finished his career after two seasons with the San Jose Sharks ('96-'98).
The fact he made it into the US Hockey Hall of Fame says it all. In his first six years (three with Chicago, three with Toronto), Eddie Olczyk was a prolific goal scorer, having two 20 goal seasons, two 30 goal seasons, and a 40 goal season. The Chicago native was drafted #3 overall by the Blackhawks in 1984. Through 1031 games in his NHL career, Olczyk scored 342 goals and 452 assists. He won a Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994. He also represented the United States in the 1984 Olympics.
Olczyk did have a brief stint coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he has spent his last nine years as the color analyst for the team that drafted him, the Chicago Blackhawks. When he's doing work nationally on NBC, former Blackhawk defenseman Steve Konroyd takes over.
Peter McNab was a solid goal scorer in the NHL for years. After spending his first three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, he found himself in a Boston Bruins uniform. He would spend eight seasons in Beantown. In the first six of those seasons, McNab had four 30 goal seasons and two 40 goal seasons. McNab is best remembered for the December 1979 incident in Madison Square Garden where he and a number of his Bruins teammates went into the crowd and fought Ranger fans (see video). McNab was suspended for six games.
In 1987-88, the season after McNab retired from hockey, he started a career in color commentary with the team he finished his career with - the New Jersey Devils. In 1995, McNab would take up the same position with the Colorado Avalanche (who had just moved from Quebec). McNab has been at that job ever since.
Daryl Reaugh briefly played in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers and the Edmonton Oilers, but he spent most of his time playing in the AHL.
Reaugh has been performing as the Dallas Stars color analyst since 1996. In 2011-12, he also started working Western Conference games on Hockey Night In Canada. The Dallas pair of Reaugh and play-by-play commentator Ralph Strangis has become a popular pairing through the years.
In 2014, Drew Remenda took over color commentary duties for the Edmonton Oilers regional television broadcasts. For years, he did the same job for the San Jose Sharks.
Remenda did not play, but he was an assistant coach for the Sharks for five seasons and was an associate coach for the Kansas City Blades of the IHL. At one point, he was also the video coordinator for Hockey Canada.
Who was the better player?
In your opinion, which of these current color analysts was the best player?
If it wasn't for a knee injury, who knows how high Jim Fox's numbers would have gone. In three seasons with the Ottawa 67's, Fox scored 146 goals. He was then drafted 10th overall in the 1980 Entry Draft. Fox would go on to play all nine seasons of his career for the Los Angeles Kings. During his time there, he would have three 30-goal seasons to his credit.
Fox has been the Kings' color man since 1990, meaning Fox has been a part of the Kings family for 35 years, including 25 years in the booth. He is currently ninth on the team's all-time assists and points lists, as well as 11th all-time in Kings goals. Fox can be seen in the comedic hockey movie "Mystery, Alaska".
Mike Greenlay spent most of his time tending goal in the minors. He only spent 20 minutes in two games with the Edmonton Oilers, who made him a ninth round draft pick in 1986. Greenlay retired after playing 1 game with the Houston Aeros of the IHL in the 1995-96 season. He is one of the only South American born (Brazil) players to make an appearance in an NHL game.
Greenlay worked in the booth for the Houston Aeros, Orlando Solar Bears, and the Anaheim Ducks before becoming the color commentator for the Minnesota Wild in 2002.
These commentators pack a punch
If you're a hockey fan, you've already seen The Grim Reaper. Stu Grimson was as tough as they come. He had 2113 penalty minutes in 729 career games in the NHL. He played for eight teams: Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, and Nashville Predators.
Something of note about Stu: in his final season with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, he scored 24 goals and 32 assists - by far his highest scoring totals of his career - and 248 penalty minutes. With the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the IHL, Grimson logged 397 penalty minutes in 1988-89. Post-concussion syndrome cut his career short. Grimson spent six seasons as the Predators color analyst on radio. He has just finished his first season as television color analyst for the team.
Darren Pang was only five foot five, but it didn't stop him from being an NHL goaltender. In fact, in 1988, "Panger" would make it on the NHL All-Rookie Team. He only appeared in 81 games in his career. A knee injury cut his career short.
But, Pang's true career would surface. Pang has worked between the glass for NBC and behind the desk for Sportsnet. He has been the St. Louis Blues color analyst since 2009.
Jamie Baker was a NHL veteran of 400+ games between 1989-90 and 1998-99. He played for the Quebec Nordiques, San Jose Sharks, and Toronto Maple Leafs. While he was with the Sharks, he scored one of the franchise's most important goals.
In 1994, the Sharks drew the eighth seed versus the number one team in the Western Conference, the Detroit Red Wings. The Sharks beat the Red Wings four games to three in a monumental upset for a Sharks team that was founded only three years earlier. Baker's third period goal was the game winning and series winning goal in Game 7. Baker just finished his first season as the color analyst for the Sharks.
John Garrett's career in the WHA was nearly historic. When the league ended operations in 1979, Garrett ranked fifth all-time in wins (148), second in career shutouts (14), third in career games played by a goaltender (323), and third in career minutes played by a goaltender (18,919). He was also the first goaltender to play for the Hartford Whalers in an NHL game (after they moved from the WHA).
Garrett has been the Vancouver Canucks' color commentator since 2002-03. Though, his broadcasting career in 1986-87 on Hockey Night In Canada.
Brian Engblom played 11 seasons in the NHL before bone spurs in his spinal column forced him to retire. He had two solid scoring seasons on the blueline for the University of Wisconsin. Engblom was drafted in the second round of the 1975 Amateur Draft. Two years later, he would skate in two playoff contests for the Montreal Canadiens, who would raise the Stanley Cup that year.
Since Engblom didn't play in any regular season games in 1976-77, he did not get his name on the Cup. But, Engblom would solidify his reputation on the Montreal blue line, helping them win Cups in 1978 and 1979. Engblom started his broadcasting career in 1992-93. He currently does color commentary for the Winnipeg Jets and nationally for NBCSN. At times, Engblom will also do post-game analysis of the Colorado Avalanche.