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ESPN’s Stanley Cup Coverage Evolves

Senior production manager Vic Morren, who has been involved in ESPN's NHL coverage since 1987, and production coordinator Camille Bova offer their perspectives before Stanley Cup Final Game 5 tonight

The curtain will rise on Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight in Denver; this depicts Amalie Arena in Tampa before Game 4 on Wednesday. (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

As the Stanley Cup Final heads into Game 5 tonight between the series-leading host Colorado Avalanche and two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, few on the current talent or production team remember the last time ESPN produced the Stanley Cup during the 2003-’04 season.

Coincidentally, the Lightning were also in that matchup – as were commentators Linda Cohn, Steve Levy, Barry Melrose and senior production manager Vic Morren.

Morren’s first event with ESPN came in 1987 when the network had the NHL the first time around. That year, he worked his first of 17 Stanley Cup Finals – Edmonton versus Philadelphia.

Production coordinator Camille Bova (C) speaks with producer Andy Tennant (L) and commentator Kevin Weekes (Phil Ellsworth/ ESPN Images)

“In those years, super slo-mo was the most notable part of the evolution of the coverage during that first ESPN/NHL contract which ran from 1985-86 to 1987-88,” said Morren, who has worked at ESPN for the bulk of the past 35 years. “In our next contract from 1992-2004, robotic cameras became a key component in the next part of the evolution of coverage. Mounted at center ice opposite the players’ benches and on the glass above the nets, the looks provided were truly unique for their time.”

As the Stanley Cup Final featuring the Lightning and Colorado Avalanche returns to ESPN 18 years later, production continues to evolve.

Morren notes, “while we do have folks on-ice shooting the players with Steadi-Cams during the anthem and breaks in the action, the attention to audio has been truly notable. The ‘mic-ing’ of players has been next level, and interviewing players while they go through pre-game warm-ups has gotten the viewers closer to the athlete than ever before.”

This season, Morren is joined in the Management Operations group by production coordinator Camille Bova.

Vic Morren is an ESPN senior production manager. (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

“A lot has changed since 2004, but it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave our impact on the sport,” said Bova, who joined ESPN in 2017. “We’re working to bring new fans to the sport while still creating content for those who have been watching their entire lives.”

Without Bova and Morren’s organization, the shows would not go on. They handle all 25 NHL commentators’ needs throughout the season, organizing production schedules, coordinating shoots, and more.

Morren is depicted here in a 1993 ESPN company newsletter, “Uplink.” (ESPN)

“This season, the biggest challenge from a logistical perspective has been building templates which carry us through the next several years,” Morren said. “Between games and wraps coverage, The Point and In the Crease, our coverage has included several hundred events and studio shows.”

Bova said: “We have an incredible mix of veteran talent and new team members, some of which are new to being on-air. It’s been rewarding to build relationships with everyone and watch how our on-air coverage has evolved over the season. We also have a great production team behind the scenes that are passionate about the sport and making our broadcast the best it can be with the NHL back on ESPN.”

After working on multiple leagues and shows throughout her career, Bova says, “the difference with hockey is the fan base – how die-hard and protective of their sport they are. It’s been great helping to tell stories about the stars of the game and their legacy while also introducing fans to newer players and parts of their personalities they may not have seen prior. ”

As the 2021-22 NHL season closes, Bova looks ahead to Year 2: “We’re about to wrap up Year 1, and I’m proud of the work we’ve put together. We produced weekly studio shows, nightly digital shows, over 100 regular-season games, and more. The relationships that we’ve cultivated with the league and the teams have been invaluable. I look forward to building upon that next season and exploring the stories and new access that could be available to us.”

Watch the Avalanche, leading the best-of-seven series 3-1, attempt to earn their first Stanley Cup since 2002 tonight on ABC at 8 ET.

Vic Morren’s love of ESPN and the NHL is evident. (Vic Morren/ESPN)
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