Legendary NHL Announcer Emrick Retires

  • Long-time NHL play-by-play announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick has retired
  • Emrick has long been the voice of hockey, especially in the United States, calling NHL games for NBC and NBCSN
  • Emrick was also the play-by-play voice for the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers
  • Emrick is the most decorated hockey broadcaster the game has ever seen

All good things come to an end. The most recent sporting-world example of that came Monday morning when one of the most respected voices in sports revealed he is calling it quits on a wildly decorated career in the broadcast booth.

Mike “Doc” Emrick Retires

If you’ve watched NHL hockey in the United States over the last few decades, it’s quite likely you are familiar with Mike “Doc” Emrick, the legendary play-by-play announcer that wore many different hats throughout a decorated career.

On Monday morning, the long-time voice of NHL hockey in the U.S. announced he is calling it quits on a long-tenured career in the broadcast booth. If you’re a hockey fan, or a human, good luck getting through this:

“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,” Emrick said in a video released by NBC Sports. “Gordie Howe was a Red Wing, Bobby Hull was a Blackhawk, Booby Orr was a Bruin… 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.”

An Indiana native, Emrick’s first sportscasting work came in 1973 when he did radio play-by-play work for the now-defunct IHL’s Port Huron Flags. Since then, it’s been a wild ride.

Emrick has worked the Stanley Cup Final 22 times, 45 Stanley Cup Playoffs/Final Game 7s, six Olympics, 14 NHL All-Star Games and 10 Winter Classics and Stadium Series Games, including the inaugural Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo on January 1, 2008.

All told, Doc estimated he’s called in excess of 3,750 professional and Olympic hockey games.

“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.”

“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.”

Long and Winding Road

After Emrick began with the IHL’s Flags in 1973, he held the same play-by-play and public relations role for Maine of the American Hockey League from 1977-80.

Afterwards, he caught on with the Philadelphia Flyers as a spot announcer for home games and in-studio analyst from 1980-83 before being promoted to lead play-by-play announcer in 1988. Following his stint with the Flyers, Doc was the play-by-play voice for the New Jersey Devils for 21 seasons, first from 1983-86 before getting the Flyers’ job, but returned to New Jersey in 1993 and remaining there until Just 21, 2011 when he caught on with NBC and NBCSN to finish his broadcasting career and leave a forever memorable mark in our minds.

“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.”

Stands in a League of his Own

Not only is Doc a living legends in the United States, but certainly across North America and beyond. His list of awards strongly suggests he’s perhaps the best to ever do it.

Emrick won the Foster Hewitt Award, presented by the Hockey Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions to hockey broadcasting, in 2008. On December 12, 2011, Emrick became the first member of the media to be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Additionally, Emrick received the NHL’s Lester Patrick Award in 2004, making him the first of only five to have received the award for media work. Emrick has also won eight national Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Personality — Play-by-Play, including seven straight from 2014-20. He’s the only hockey broadcaster to win even one.

As the best to ever do it, let’s wish Doc well in “waffle-boarding” his way into retirement.

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