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    Former Kings coach Barry Melrose retires from ESPN after revealing Parkinson’s diagnosis
    • October 10, 2023

    EL SEGUNDO –– Barry Melrose, the coach who guided the Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Final, announced Tuesday he was stepping away from his post-coaching job as a broadcaster after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

    “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,” said Melrose, 67, in a statement.

    Melrose played nearly 500 professional games on defense between the NHL and the competing World Hockey Association, most notably with the Toronto Maple Leafs. His career in coaching began at 35 and was encapsulated almost entirely within three campaigns stewarding the Kings. His tenure was highlighted by his first season, which preceded a Wayne Gretzky-led dash to a Final that saw the Kings upended by an indefatigable bunch of Montreal Canadiens.

    He coached Kings general manager Rob Blake and Kings president Luc Robitaille in their primes, leaving a longstanding imprint on them and their teammates.

    “He was a terrific coach, a big influence with Luc and I, obviously, in our careers, but I think within the organization itself. He’s in our thoughts and our prayers,” Blake said.

    In 1996, Melrose began an association with ESPN that endured all but uninterrupted until Tuesday. He had another dalliance with pro coaching, lasting just 16 games behind the Tampa Bay Lighting bench in 2008-09. While Melrose may never have been clipping at Scotty Bowman’s heels for the most career victories in NHL history, NBA legend turned eight-figure analyst Charles Barkley once said he felt Melrose was the best analyst in sports.

    Beyond any specific area of the industry, Melrose’s gregarious nature, infectious guffaw and everyman-oriented vernacular made him an indelible figure in the hockey world long after he skated his last shift or blew his final whistle.

    “I’ve worked with Barry at ESPN for over a quarter century. Cold beers and hearty laughs in smokey cigar bars. A razor sharp wit, he was always early and he looked like a million bucks. I love him. I’ll miss him,” said Melrose’s frequent broadcast partner John Buccigross via X on Tuesday.

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    Melrose was not only one to connect with fans through a screen. At events he covered, he would frequently arrive early, roam liberally and commiserate with patrons, remaining eager to snap photos, share stories and extend the reach of the sport to which he’d dedicated his life.

    “He’s bigger than any team,” Gretzky said in a video tribute for ESPN. “For decades, he’s been suiting up – and I mean suiting up – for the game, for the sport, for hockey.”

    He added: “Hockey is more than a game, it’s a community, a finely tuned orchestra, and Barry was our conductor.”

    ​ Orange County Register