Working their 23rd Stanley Cup Final together, Melrose and Levy are a perfect match

Steve Levy and Barry Melrose report for SportsCenter from the balcony of Tootsie’s in Nashville while covering the Stanley Cup Final. (Photo courtesy of Steve Levy/ESPN)

ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose and SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy are working the Stanley Cup Final together for the 23rd consecutive year together, providing multiple daily reports for SportsCenter. This year, they are joined by Linda Cohn. Front Row caught up with Melrose before tonight’s Game 4 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and host Nashville Predators.

Why do you like the city of Nashville?
It’s because of the combination we have going. I love country music so much. Steve and I do a lot with Garth Brooks’ foundation, which is a big part of the NHL and many players are involved. Whenever there was a function in Nashville, Steve and I always ran into them. We got to know the city that way, so it is a natural combination. Throw in the NHL and all my favorite things have come together in one city. It is a small big city with great restaurants and history.

What about the Predators has struck a chord with Nashville?
Southern sports fans love hockey. We have seen that in Texas, Florida and California. They love the pace, speed, physicality and the aggressiveness. You have to have guts to play hockey. In Nashville, the country music sector, like Vince Gill and Garth Brooks, has embraced the team. All those things combined have made people fall in love with the style of hockey – fast and aggressive – the team plays. Lots of goals, hitting and scrapping.

Does it matter if a country singer performs the national anthem?
Numbers are such a big part of sports, so the team has lost one home game, when Kelly Clarkson, a pop star, sang. Every night a country music star has performed, they won. I’m not saying pop music can’t win the Stanley Cup, but I think Nashville will stick with country music singers.

What is it like working the Final with Levy for 23 consecutive years?
Steve drives me crazy! Seriously, we have a blast for these two weeks. We are together all the time, we work, eat and travel together. We love being at the rink and what we do.

What is your day like reporting for SportsCenter?
Linda does the morning hits. We begin when the teams start practice. We are reporting before and after games, as well as off days. We generally make 6-9 appearances on game days.

Levy on covering the Stanley Cup Final with Barry Melrose for 23 straight years

Steve Levy (L) and Barry Melrose report for SportsCenter from inside PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh before a Stanley Cup Final game. (Photo courtesy of Steve Levy/ESPN)

After 23 years on the road covering the Stanley Cup Final together, as well as countless SportsCenter shows from the studio, Steve Levy knows his friend Barry Melrose as well as anyone.

“I am convinced producers and talent put Barry on their show even if they don’t want to talk hockey,” said Levy. “They just want to hang out with him.

“What most people don’t realize is that Barry is so much more than just hockey and hockey hair,” he said. “He’s as comfortable talking penalty killing as he is history, politics, movies, wine and cigars. He likes to smoke cigars, too, not just talk about them, and he’s always carrying a book with him.

“This time of year, for these two weeks we are together 24/7, and after 23 years of doing this, I’m amazed,” he said. “He still has new stories to tell, guidance to offer, and answers to my many questions about hockey and life. He’s a true friend.”

And Melrose’s Canadian-speak has even rubbed off on Levy, a true New Yorker.

“It’s because of him I ask ‘Where’s the washroom?’” he said. “It’s much nicer than saying ‘bathroom’ and it’s all part of the Melrose charm.”

-By Andy Hall

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