Alex Ovechkin will play KHL hockey on ESPN2, with Barry Melrose on the mic

ESPN2 is, in some ways, the channel that hockey built (OK, and Jim Rome). So there's a bit of nostalgia — and more than a little irony — in Friday's news that pro hockey is returning the Deuce for the first time in several years.

KHL hockey, to be exact.

The Kontinental Hockey League's deal with ESPN3 was formalized with an announcement today, with some unexpected news about a broadcast component:

ESPN today officially announced that it will deliver a minimum of seven games from 2012-13 season of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) exclusively on ESPN3 in the US and on ESPN UK. Coverage begins Tuesday, October 9 at 1 p.m. ET with ESPN SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy and NHL studio analyst Barry Melrose calling the Lev vs. Dynamo Moscow game live on ESPN2 and ESPN3. The game will re-air in primetime on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET and will air on delay on ESPN in the UK (Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 2 p.m. BST).

Confirmed games through the end of the month feature an all-star lineup of hockey players, including Alex Ovechkin (Dynamo Moscow), Ilya Kovalchuk (SKA), Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar (Metallurg Mg).

In addition to Levy and Melrose, commentary will be delivered in English language by play-by-play announcer Paul Romanuk and analyst Aaron Murphy. Previously, ESPN3 in the US carried more than 50 games from the KHL live in Russian throughout the 2009-10 and 2010-11 regular seasons and playoffs. In January 2010, ESPN3 distributed the KHL All-Star Game with Levy and Melrose commentating live from Bristol.

Steve and Barry, talkin' KHL hockey, pronouncing KHL names. Awesome.

At the moment, the Oct. 9 game between Lev vs. Dynamo Moscow and Alex Ovechkin is the only game scheduled for ESPN2. One wonders if this is a trial balloon for further simulating of KHL games if there's an audience for it — like getting your Evgeni Malkin fix on Oct. 22.

So if you want your fix of NHL stars, you better watch ESPN. And no, we never thought we'd ever type the previous sentence.

Photo via Julie Rubes.

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