On Monday morning, the hockey world was thrown into a shock when legendary broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emrick announced his retirement from calling the game of hockey, something that he has done since 1973. Not only did it affect all hockey fans across the world, ones who have heard his voice describe some of the game's greatest moments, but it affected every one who worked around him-- all who offered their sincere gratitude for how great of a person Doc was. Incredibly humble, very generous with his time, you could not find a better person than Doc Emrick.
22 Stanley Cup Finals, eight Sports Emmys, and six Olympic games are just some of the many things that line this legendary announcer's resume. He had announced my favorite team, the New Jersey Devils, from its inception in 1982 to 1986, then returned in 1993 and stayed there until 2011. He had been NBC's primary voice for nearly a decade, and the voice of about every Stanley Cup Final I have watched.
On a more personal level though, Doc retiring is another piece of my childhood that has gone to the wayside. As an aspiring sports broadcaster, there was nothing better than tuning in during the winters of the 2000s, or in the summers during playoff runs, to listen to Doc and Glenn "Chico" Resch on MSG Network to watch the Devils with my dad-- who had done the same thing in the previous decades before I was born. Doc and Chico were a match made in broadcasting heaven, the eloquent description of plays by Doc, who seemingly used a word we've never heard used on broadcasts before every broadcast, and the personable humor Chico brought to the booth as a former NHL goalie, which brought some unintentionally hilarious moments between the two. It was something that really made me fall in love with broadcasting, and the game of hockey, tuning in to hear Doc and Chico call those random Devils games early in my life were something I will never forget. "OH WHAT A SAVE BY BRODEUR ON STRAKA! MY GOODNESS" is a quote that my dad and I say quite often, despite that game being in 2007.
While Doc started to work for NBC in the 2010s and was heard less and less on Devils broadcasts, and Chico went on hiatus in 2012 until returning to radio with Matt Loughlin a few years ago, I have fond memories of some of the greatest calls in Devils history. Fans were lucky enough that he was able to call the Adam Henrique overtime winner in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Final (even though I was there for the goal in person, I can still recite the entire call from memory), "Henrique! It's over!" and "The championship to New Jersey! The Devils win the Stanley Cup!" will live on forever.
While Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko have been great replacements, no matchup can recreate the sheer chemistry Doc and Chico had. I enjoyed hearing him in a few NHL games, both in video game form and in the form of Devils games on NBC, as it reminded me of the time where I could listen to that every night.
I have met Doc and Chico a handful of times, but one that stood out the most to me was when I happened to run into Doc while he was grabbing some food before a game started and he noticed my cast from a broken finger. He stopped during his busy schedule to point out my cast, and described it as "a tough hockey injury that will sideline you for a month or so." As a 12-year old kid meeting one of my heroes, I was starstruck and surprised he had even noticed me walking on the concourse, and hearing him describe my injury was one of the coolest things ever, but what was even cooler was that he signed the cast for me, saying he was going to sign "where you would grab a microphone if you were a broadcaster." This meant more to me than a lot of other things that had happened in my life. I met him another time down the line, this time in the booth, and he actually gave me a packet of broadcast notes that he had used that day for the game, stating "you'll need these more than I do." I am sure I still have them somewhere, but I cannot put into words how cool it was, and how much it meant to me.
Doc and Chico gained celebrity status as Devils broadcasters, and meeting them was one of the coolest things I have ever done, as I would run into Chico sometimes during warmups--as he would often come down and talk to the fans before the games-- and he would sit down and discuss hockey with me and predict on what we would see during the game, and as a young kid, this was the coolest thing ever.
Although' Doc's time in hockey has come to a close, I will look fondly back on the memories of him in the booth at both the Continental Airlines Arena and The Rock, and listening to him on MSG Network every night, and hope to recreate the excitement he would bring to his broadcasts. Thank you so much for your time Doc, and best of luck in retirement!