Linda Cohn talks about the life experience that led to her career in sports broadcasting
This week, Dax and Alesha are joined by ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor and podcast host Linda Cohn. Along with her colleague, ESPN NHL reporter Emily Kaplan, she hosts “In The Crease – The ESPN NHL Podcast with Linda Cohn & Emily Kaplan.”
A former hockey player herself, Linda tells Dax and Alesha what drew her to the sport. A New York native, she and her father would watch hockey regularly, following the “downward spiraling rollercoaster” that has been the New York hockey scene for quite some time. Eventually, she started to play hockey on an all-boys team, despite her mother’s wishes for her to play tennis, and Linda found her shy, wallflower self as the center of attention when she began taking up the goalie position.
She said her experience playing hockey is what inspired her and prepared her for a career in sports broadcasting. She has worked as a sports anchor for numerous radio stations and shows before finding herself at ESPN for nearly 30 years now.
Interestingly enough, ESPN recently reacquired the NHL package, allowing them to broadcast games. The acquirement meant that Linda, a lifelong hockey fan, could finally give her takes on the state of hockey today. Since their podcast started in 2017, she and Emily Kaplan have been the only podcast about the NHL on ESPN.
While she only covers hockey in this podcast, Linda says what she loves most about her podcast is storytelling. She tells Dax and Alesha that she enjoys sharing stories about players and hopes that, if people aren’t already fans of the NHL, those stories will draw them towards certain players and get them watching more.
Alesha asks about their episodes regarding Kyle Beach, the former Chicago Blackhawks player who was John Doe 1 in a sexual assault lawsuit against former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich. Another unnamed player was also a part of the lawsuit, and the accusations go back to 2010. It wasn’t until October of 2021 that Beach confirmed he was John Doe 1 on SportsCenter and suffered at the hands of Aldrich during his time on the team. The “In The Crease” episodes that talk about Beach are “A Developing Story With A Powerful Message” and “Exposing The Hypocrisy” from late October and early November of 2021.
Alesha asks how Linda and Emily talk about scandals and the NHL’s shortcomings on their podcast, to which LInda says they are always objective. While they want people to love the sport and league as much as they do, these issues are ones that need to be talked about. She hopes that with Beach coming forward about the abuse that it will help others in similar situations to come forward as well.
She and Alesha briefly bond over their love for Law & Order: SVU and both being untrusting Scorpios before diving into the mental health of athletes. As we’ve been seeing more and more (e.g. Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka), athletes more than ever are setting boundaries and prioritizing their mental health. Linda cites how hockey players in particular are known to leave home at very young ages to stay with host families in various countries so they can train and play with elite teams. She notes how throwing that into the mix makes mental health in hockey even more important.
While Linda is too busy to listen to other podcasts at the moment (she does “In The Crease” twice a week), she says she loves music, so Dax recommends MTV’s “Behind The Music.”