A.J. Mleczko is a two-time Olympic medalist and seasoned analyst for the United States women’s hockey team, but without many women’s hockey broadcast opportunities outside of the Olympics, Mleczko turned to the NHL.
Last night, Mleczko joined play-by-play voice Chris Cuthbert and rinkside reporter Brian Boucher to provide color commentary on NBC Sports Network’s telecast of the Bruins – Red Wings game. This was her first appearance covering the NHL for NBC, but previously she provided analysis on NESN and the NHL Network.
Mleczko worked four Winter Olympics as a women’s hockey analyst and even called field hockey during the Rio Olympics. For Mleczko, being in the booth during a men’s NHL game is an easy adjustment. “It’s nice to be able to talk hockey,’’ she said. “Women’s hockey, men’s hockey, it’s all the same.’’
Mleczko was approached by NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood during the Olympics about the idea of her joining an NHL broadcast.
“He asked me what I was doing on March 6,’’ she said, “and I said, ‘I don’t have plans.’ He asked me if I wanted to do the Bruins game, that it was a home game and I wouldn’t have to travel, and that it was about time for that opportunity. It was a very easy answer for me.’’
The Harvard grad lives in Concord, Massachusetts so she’s familiar with the Bruins and was able to attend practice, making it easier to prepare for last night’s game.
“So much of broadcasting is being prepared. Although my role is to analyze what’s going on the ice, all of that prep work makes me feel more complete. Often times I have all this prep work and use a small percentage of it. But it makes me feel better. If some fourth-liner has a great game, I’m ready.’’
Mleczko obviously impressed NBC executives enough to earn a chance at broadcasting the NHL. Future opportunities for Mleczko covering the NHL on NBC Sports Network have not been reported, but last night’s call of the Bruins – Red Wings matchup could be viewed as an audition.