On Monday, Mike “Doc” Emrick retired from his position as the head play-by-play announcer for the NHL on NBC, which he held for 15 years. Throughout his 47-year career, he has graced some of the greatest plays in sports history with his legendary voice. With news of his retirement, people began reposting his greatest calls, and more importantly, the stories of his fans meeting him, calling him an even better person than he is a broadcaster.
Emrick began his broadcasting career with the IHL’s Port Huron Flags. He went to the Devils as their first voice of New Jersey after their move from Colorado, then to the Flyers in the late ’80s. He returned to New Jersey, calling all three Stanley Cup victories in his tenure from 1993-2011. Simultaneously, he worked for ESPN, Fox, CBS, TNT and NBC calling national hockey beginning in 1986. In total, he called 22 Stanley Cup Finals, 14 NHL All-Star Games and was a part of eight Olympic Games, as a water polo announcer for two of them.
Doc, paired with former Chicago Blackhawk Eddie Olczyk, have called the Stanley Cup Finals and many playoff series while the NHL has been on NBC. From the Blackhawks’ three Stanley Cups, the Kings’ overtime victory against the Rangers and Derek Stepan’s overtime winner against Washington, to the Adam Henrique goal that sent New Jersey to the Finals and the Golden Goal of the 2010 Olympic gold medal game.
My personal favorite has to be that gold medal game in Vancouver. Zach Parise tied the game at two with 24 seconds to go, and the excitement in Doc’s voice matched with the euphoria in hockey houses across the 50 states. At that moment, I had no doubt that the United States was winning their third gold medal. Unfortunately, Sidney Crosby had other ideas. Despite the loss for the U.S., it is still without a doubt the greatest hockey game I’ve ever watched, topped off by the greatest to ever put on the headset telling us the story throughout the whole run for Ryan Miller and the United States.
More than his ability to capture the big moments was his ability to set the scene of a big game, or talk about players as they went through the handshake line and what they must be thinking as they lifted their first Stanley Cup. One that sticks out to me is from the second-round series between Columbus and Boston last season. In the video announcing his retirement, he spoke about his affinity for the handshake line at the end of a playoff series. This is what came into my mind when he said that: three minutes of commentary about a season over for Columbus, a fanbase saluting them for a great run and a handshake between Josh Anderson and Charlie McAvoy who had gotten into a penalty causing collision in the deciding Game 6.
We all love this sport too, Doc. And you as well. Happy retirement to the greatest of all time.