John Winkin (left) shares a moment with Gary Thorne during an event in 2009. Former University of Maine slugger Kevin Buckley credits Winkin's willingness to recruit him after suffering a broken leg with helping set the stage for his All-America and pro baseball career. Credit: BDN File Photo

Old Town native Gary Thorne, a fixture as a national sports broadcaster, is ready to take the next step in his career.

The longtime play-by-play announcer, who in 2020 ended a 10-year run as the Baltimore Orioles’ play-by-play announcer on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, would like to return to ESPN, which recently landed a contract to televise National Hockey League games.

The seven-year, $2.8 billion deal reached by the Walt Disney Company/ESPN and the NHL gives the network exclusive rights to air four Stanley Cup finals on ABC between 2022 and 2028.

There will be 25 national regular-season games per season on ABC or ESPN and 75 more produced by ESPN will be streamed on ESPN+ and Hulu.

The 72-year-old Thorne, who was inducted into the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, told “The Athletic” he is interested in talking to Disney/ESPN about broadcasting NHL games next season.

“I’d love to see what direction they’re going to take with it, what the schedule is going to look like, all of that,” Thorne said.

“Is that something that interests me? Yes, it does,” he said.

Thorne’s run with MASN and the Orioles ended last year after his contract was not renewed amid a contract dispute during a major league season shortened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thorne was one of six broadcasters not retained by the Orioles, along with former UMaine and Baltimore Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick.

Thorne said in a Baltimore Sun story that it was sad to not have his contract renewed by the Orioles this season.

“I would have preferred that I be there to have the opportunity to say thank you to so many people I worked with and, particularly, the fans,” he said. “I really regret that I’m not going to have a chance to thank the fans for their support, friendship and kindness because that meant a lot to me.”

Thorne, who lives in California, was ESPN’s primary play-by-play announcer for NHL games from 1992-2004. He has also called several NCAA Frozen Fours for ESPN, working with color analyst Barry Melrose.

He was the radio voice for UMaine hockey before moving on to play-by-play gigs with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Major League Baseball’s New York Mets, Chicago White Sox and Orioles.

Thorne’s voice has been featured in EA Sports’ NHL video game series for several years.

The UMaine and Georgetown University law school graduate’s extensive and impressive resume also includes the College World Series, the Little League World Series, the Professional Bowlers Association, college football and basketball and the Olympics.

He was the lead announcer for ESPN radio’s “Sunday Night Baseball” coverage and has served as the emcee for the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.