In his new gig with ESPN, Ray Ferraro is going to be focused on what he loves the most: analyzing games.

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It’s been a long way home for Ray Ferraro, but he’s landed back where it all started.

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The former-NHLer-turned-popular-hockey-commentator signed on with ESPN this week, as part of the Worldwide Leader in Sports’ re-entry into the world of the NHL.

“I’m really super-excited to be honest,” Ferraro said this week from his Vancouver home.

“I didn’t know it was a career at the time, I was still playing. I got to work with John Buccigross and Barry Melrose,” he said, recalling his first foray into broadcasting alongside Buccigross on Melrose on ESPN 2Night, a step he took while he was still an active player. “All these years later, I’m back.”

The new role with ESPN will see him working around 50 NHL national broadcasts over the course of the season, roughly 1 1/2 per week, plus working regional Toronto Maple Leafs broadcasts and the world junior championships for TSN.

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The NHL’s new U.S. TV deals with ESPN and Turner Sports couldn’t have come at a better time for Ferraro. The lives of his boys, Riley, 14, and Reese, 11, are busier than ever, and so is his wife’s: Cammi Granato is the Vancouver-based pro scout for the Seattle Kraken who are weeks away from their expansion draft and hit the ice for real next fall.

In other words, it was going to get harder and harder to keep up with his previous schedule, which had him doing his TV work for TSN and making daily appearances on Vancouver and Toronto radio, plus regular radio appearances in other markets.

He was having to operate as a local insider, which meant hours of prep time for each hit.

“It’s the overall workload that Cammi and I were hoping to rebalance,” he acknowledged. “With her working more with the Kraken on top of being a mom, this lets us balance it all better. I was on daily in Vancouver and Toronto — doing 15 to 18 hits per week is incredibly time-consuming. So I was fortunate to be able to have this opportunity to change my schedule a bit.

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“Riley’s not that long before he’s out of high school. It happens fast,” he added.

Riley and Reese are his second family, after having raised two sons with his first wife. Sons Landon, 30, played this past season in Germany and Matt, 33, played junior hockey but is now in business.

“I love watching them (Riley and Reese) do their thing and that includes playing soccer and I think this is going to give me more opportunity to do that as well. I won’t be gone for three weeks for the world championships (every May) is another factor in all of this too,” he added.

But he’s still tied to TSN to do the World Juniors every winter.

“I love the World Juniors so I was really happy I got to schedule that. ESPN and TSN were good enough to work that out,” he said. “This August we’ll get the schedule and I’ll pretty much know my schedule until next April. And you can work around that.

“My new schedule now (will be) games and games. The daily grind of radio, it’s hard to convey how much work it is for the radio, when you’re on in different markets you can’t come on in Vancouver and not know what’s going on in Vancouver. And then I’m on in Toronto and on in Montreal.

“I like being in the rink and doing the games, and this will give me the opportunity. And in years we (ESPN) have the Stanley Cup Final, I’ll be there, that’s exciting,” he said. “I love doing the games, I love them more than anything else.”

pjohnston@postmedia.com

twitter.com/risingaction

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