Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Mike “Doc” Emrick Is Retiring

from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post,

Mike “Doc” Emrick, the incomparable Voice of the NHL, Monday morning will retire, as per a shared announcement with NBC Sports.

Emrick, 74, rose from calling college and minor league hockey radio broadcasts to develop an enthralling style that emphasized superior, often mesmerizing play-by-play: Original on-the-fly, bull’s-eye descriptions; a great knowledge of the game; current and past anecdotal info, timed to perfection; strong, warm relationships with his color analysts; and a modest charm that radiated as real. He forced nothing. He just knew how to know.

“I hope I can handle retirement OK,” he said Sunday night from his home in Michigan, “especially since I’ve never done it before. But I’ve just been extremely lucky for 50 years. And NBC has been so good to me, especially since the pandemic, when I was allowed to work from home in a studio NBC created.

continued

added 1:21pm, Hockey USA release is below.

HOCKEY, USA – October 19, 2020 – Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, among the most acclaimed, respected and beloved sportscasters of all time, announced his retirement today following a 47-year career broadcasting professional hockey, including the last 15 as the lead play-by-play voice for NBC Sports’ NHL coverage.

Synonymous with hockey in the United States, Emrick rose from calling college and minor league hockey in the 1970s to voicing the most important hockey games of the past three decades, including 22 Stanley Cup Finals, 45 Stanley Cup Playoffs/Final Game 7s, six Olympics, NHL Winter Classics and All-Star Games. In all, Emrick estimates he has called more than 3,750 professional and Olympic hockey games, thrilling viewers with an unmatched style that blended fevered excitement with an endless vocabulary of words to describe the puck’s movement around the rink.

Acclaim for his work is unmatched. In 2011, Emrick became the first broadcaster ever inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. In all, he’s a member of seven Halls of Fame. That same year, Emrick won the first of his eight career Sports Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play, which is the most ever in the category, including an unprecedented run of seven consecutive in the years 2014-2020.

Although retiring, Emrick will remain a member of the NBC Sports family by occasionally writing and narrating video essays for its NHL coverage in the future.

“It was 50 years ago this fall, with pen and pad in hand at old Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, I got my first chance to cover the National Hockey League. Gordie Howe was a Red Wing, Bobby Hull was a Blackhawk, Bobby Orr was a Bruin,” said Emrick. “A time like this makes me recall that we have seen a lot together. The biggest crowd ever, 105,000 at Michigan Stadium. A gold medal game that required overtime between the two North American powers in Vancouver.

“Things change over 50 years, but much of what I love is unchanged from then to now and into the years ahead. I still get chills seeing the Stanley Cup. I especially love when the horn sounds, and one team has won and another team hasn’t, all hostility can dissolve into the timeless great display of sportsmanship – the handshake line. I leave you with sincere thanks.”

“Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick is a national treasure – simply put, he’s one of the best ever to put on a headset in the history of sports broadcasting,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer and President, Production, NBC and NBCSN. “Doc’s love of the game and his unmatched style produced true artistry, engaged new fans and quickly became the soundtrack of hockey. He lived at the rink on game days, spending countless hours at morning skates to find one more story to seamlessly weave into his frenetic, yet lyrical, call of a game. Doc always found the right words to meet the moment. It’s impossible to put into words the impact Doc has had not only on the game of hockey, but for anyone who has had the distinct pleasure to work with him.”

“It has been a privilege and education on hockey’s biggest stage to have sat next to Doc for the last 14 years,” said NBC Sports’ lead NHL analyst Eddie Olczyk, who shared a booth with Doc for the past 14 seasons. “I will miss his stories, his preparation, his play-by-play, his friendship, and our dinners on the road. But most of all, I will miss his trust. My family and I wish him, Joyce, the pups and horses lots of love down the road.”

Emrick’s career started during the 1970-71 NHL season, when he covered the Pittsburgh Penguins as a freelance reporter for the Beaver County Times. Emrick is affectionately known as ‘Doc’ because he received his Ph.D. in broadcast communications from Bowling Green State University in 1976.

He called college hockey (Bowling Green, 1971-73) and minor league hockey (IHL’s Port Huron Flags, 1973-77; AHL’s Maine Mariners, 1977-80) before moving to the NHL, where he called games for three NHL teams, including roughly 20 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, as well as three broadcast networks over the past four decades.

For more on Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, click here. For Emrick’s video essay on his retirement, click here.

Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

Best in the business, he will be missed.

Posted by MikeO on 10/19/20 at 06:58 AM ET

Royal Grand Exalted PooBah's avatar

I liked Doc. I hope NBC can find someone that can be as good as he was.

Posted by Royal Grand Exalted PooBah from the basement of the Alamo on 10/19/20 at 07:22 AM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

It’s a shame that during his stint with NBC Doc was saddled with such awful color analysts because he really is so much better than the rest of the clowns on NBC.

Posted by Down River Dan on 10/19/20 at 07:34 AM ET

The Meal's avatar

I echo all three posts above, but I doubt there’s someone on par with Doc just waiting for NBC’s call.

I hope retirement treats him well, and thanks for making national broadcasts palatable.

Posted by The Meal from Firestone, CO on 10/19/20 at 07:56 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Hopefully he is going out on his own terms.  I always liked Doc - he was the voice behind many of the Wings deep playoff runs in 2008, 2009, etc, not to mention when the team was getting a lot of national air time on NBC’s Sunday afternoon slot.

Doc wasn’t quite as on top of it the last few years but who would be.  I can’t imagine continuing to call games at his level and at that age.

Posted by TreKronor on 10/19/20 at 08:31 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

Doc seems like an amazing guy and is obviously a good play-by-play guy, but I am glad we’ll get a change. His made up words really have gotten old after all these years. Personally, I prefer the play-by-play person to be more bland and just tel me what’s going on like Dave Strader (RIP), Kenny Albert, and John Forslund.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 10/19/20 at 09:26 AM ET

pavelcatsyuk's avatar

“WAFFLEBOARDED!”

Really hoping John Forslund gets the main gig. He deserves it!

Posted by pavelcatsyuk on 10/19/20 at 09:57 AM ET

Avatar

“Squibs” was another good one.

Such a likable guy.

Genuinely excited. Warm.
Down to earth. Sincere rapport
with his partners. Definitely made
each game he called feel like an event,
without screaming or resorting to a shtick.
He could be more conversational and a beat or two
behind the play in recent years but I think it would
be mind-numbing to just hear literal descriptions of everything
as if it were radio.

What a career. I’ll miss his voice for sure.

Posted by lefty.30 on 10/19/20 at 10:13 AM ET

Paul's avatar

NEW YORK (Oct. 19, 2020) – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman statement on Mike “Doc” Emrick’s retirement:

“The risk one takes in saying something about Doc Emrick is that you know he could have worded it better himself – on the spur of the moment, with 20,000 fans screaming in his ears (or up to 105,000 in the rain, snow and/or bitter cold), to a national broadcast audience relying on him to get it just right,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “In the 103-year history of the National Hockey League, nobody has ever conveyed the sights, sounds, passion, excitement, thrills and intricacies of our game better.

“His command of the English language under the most frenetic conditions defies comprehension. His unabashed wonder at the skill and courage of hockey players – as genuine in his call of Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final as in his first day doing hockey play-by-play in 1971 – always reminded listeners and viewers of the marvel he was describing. His reverence for hockey’s traditions and history, coupled with his devilish sense of humor, conveyed that, while he knew he was calling a game, it was always much more to him than just a game.

“For obvious reasons, hockey is the most challenging sport for a play-by-play man. Doc somehow didn’t just master it, he transformed it into art. The game, of course, goes on. But it never again will sound quite the same.”

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 10/19/20 at 10:26 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

The risk one takes in saying something about Doc Emrick is that you know he could have worded it better himself - but that’s not going to prevent me from trying it anyways, speaking for minutes while fans throughout the world boo my very presence; while eventually I shift the focus from Doc Emrick to myself and my accomplishments as I give you this childish half-butt grin

-Gary Bettman

Posted by TreKronor on 10/19/20 at 10:30 AM ET

Avatar

I’ll miss Doc for what he did best, play-by-play without interruption from a sub-standard color guy. Eddie O too often brought Doc down to his level. I cringed every time the subject of horses was broached.

Doc had his own unique style, probably not my preferred cup of tea but I could really appreciate his ability to use so many verbs to describe the game of hockey and simply have those words roll off his tongue while trying to cover a very fast moving sport.

Drinking and bingo games based on Doc’s verbs will be a thing of the past.

Posted by evileye on 10/19/20 at 11:56 AM ET

Paul's avatar

Press release added to the post.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 10/19/20 at 12:22 PM ET

Avatar

I’m on the side of those who genuinely appreciated Doc’s enthusiasm for the game more than I loved his style of calling a game, but that doesn’t change that he’s a real legend in his field and it’ll be sad to see him go because he was so strongly associated with hockey in this country.

It’s funny, just last night I was having a think about how NBC might change things going forward. I noticed that Pierre’s role in the final was really reduced this year as he was shunted to the side. It would be an amazing thing if NBC changed things up completely right now and made Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro their lead team (hell, keep Bouch around if you need to have the three-man booth), but at least it seems they have some strong options to take over that #1 play-by-play role—either Miller or John Forslund. I’m assuming it’ll go to the latter, and I won’t have any problems with that.

Posted by nosferatu from Albany, NY on 10/19/20 at 01:11 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Thank you, Doc.  Enjoy your retirement and here’s a Guinness to a legendary career.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 10/19/20 at 03:51 PM ET

Steeb's avatar

While I was never a fan of his “always use the passive voice” style*, I respect his hockey knowledge, and appreciate his non-biased style, despite the fact that he cut his teeth calling Devils games—which is not something you can say about a LOT of the color commentators he’s been saddled with.

*Or as he would probably say “The use of the passive voice by him”.  cheese

Posted by Steeb on 10/19/20 at 04:25 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

What is Gary Thorne up to these days?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 10/19/20 at 06:17 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

It’s a shame that during his stint with NBC Doc was saddled with such awful color analysts because he really is so much better than the rest of the clowns on NBC.

I agree. I always liked Doc, but unfortunately Eddie Olsuck contributed to ruining some of his broadcasts. shock

Posted by bigfrog on 10/19/20 at 06:31 PM ET

Steeb's avatar

What is Gary Thorne up to these days?

Posted by mrfluffy

Doing Orioles games last I saw. Wonder when his contract there is up. He’d be my first choice.

 

Posted by Steeb on 10/19/20 at 08:45 PM ET

SYF's avatar

What is Gary Thorne up to these days?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 10/19/20 at 07:17 PM ET

Play by play for the Baltimore Orioles. 

Gary Thorne has had enough of Gleybar Torres.

But we all know him so well doing this.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 10/19/20 at 08:47 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Emrick is a classy, old-school sports broadcaster, and will definitely be missed.  He was of the same mold as Dave Strader.

Isn’t it funny though that for all the hate ESPN gets, Thorne and Clement all this time later still resonate with fans?

Posted by Primis on 10/21/20 at 10:44 AM ET

Steeb's avatar

Posted by Primis

Probably doesn’t hurt, as far as Wings fans go, that he called a ton of playoff games and Cup wins for us. But yea, those two are about the best pair I can think of, apart from Strades and Mickey back in the day.

Posted by Steeb on 10/21/20 at 11:42 AM ET

SYF's avatar

It would NOT surprise one bit if Ken Daniels is tapped for a possible national broadcast team.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 10/21/20 at 12:51 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com