Legendary NHL Broadcaster “Doc” Emrick Retires
Since 2005, when NBC acquired the rights to NHL broadcasting in the United States, there has been one consummate voice featured behind the microphone, serving up his eloquent and sometimes frantically excitable play-by-play for the feature games every week. On Monday, that voice decided to sign off for the last time. Mike “Doc” Emrick announced that after more than 50 years in the broadcasting business, he was retiring.
As the story goes, the first time Doc ever got the opportunity to cover a game in the NHL, he did so under the guise that he wasn’t getting paid anything…except a press credential. Covering the Penguins for the Beaver County Times, the future Foster Hewitt Award winner and US Hockey Hall of Famer got to work with the legendary Red Kelly as well as Pittsburgh sports broadcasting legend Myron Cope. It was here that he learned to hone his skills and that experience helped him solidify his journey to his Hall of Fame career. It’s fitting that his last game would be Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Final where the greatest trophy in all of sports was awarded to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Having worked the play-by-play for NBC exclusively since 2011, his retirement announcement caps his long and storied career. Doc served as play-by-play for both Fox and ESPN in the 1980s and 1990s for their various network hockey broadcasts. Prior to that, his first real NHL job came after moving up from the Maine Mariners in the AHL to the Flyers. He had stints as head shot caller for both the New Jersey Devils and the Flyers. Mike has lent his voice to broadcasting duties for a number of Olympic tournaments as well for both NBC and CBS over the years. He even has called NFL games on occasion, including Brett Favre’s debut as a Packer where his first pass was thrown to…Brett Favre.
Above: Doc Emrick calls Brett Farve’s first pass as a Packer. (0:15)
Some often wonder if Doc, an eight-time Sports Emmy Award winner, is simply a moniker used due to his lengthy and well respected career in the business. Actually Doc does hold a Ph.D. in communications from Bowling Green University, where he also did play-by-play for their hockey program from 1971-1973. He is very intelligent and it shows in his unique delivery. Who do you think created the NHL’s pronunciation guide that all media members have handy at any given time?
For all the years Doc has covered hockey for the NHL, he has only been featured on an official NHL licensed card one time. That was in the 2011-12 Panini Crown Royale Voices of the Game insert set, which features various play-by-play announcers from around the league. Emrick’s card includes an on-card autograph.
However, in what now turned out to be his final season behind the mic, Topps decided to include Emrick as a celebrity personality in their annual Allen & Ginter set. Doc appears on a 2020 base card, as well as a mini, and has cards in all the fun parallels A&G is known for as well. He even has an Auto and an Event-Worn Relic card that either has a part of one of his suits or a tie (it doesn’t specify on the card).
Above: Doc Emrick’s Best Calls from the 2019-20 NHL season (4:40)
While Doc’s announcing style wasn’t always for everyone, there is no denying the impact Emrick’s over 3,700 called games have had on the NHL, its players, and fans. If I had my own personal hockey announcer Mt. Rushmore, Doc would be one of those faces. Doc is well-liked, well-respected, and he deserves to retire at the top of his game. Congratulations to Mike “Doc” Emrick and good luck in retirement. ■
Tim Parish is a writer-at-large for Puck Junk. Follow him on Twitter @therealdfg.