We all knew this day would come eventually. Mike “Doc” Emrick has decided to retire from hockey broadcasting.
After 3,750+ Professional and Olympic hockey games, 100 different verbs used to describe a pass or shot, and 22 Stanley Cup Finals, the legendary Mike "Doc" Emrick has announced his retirement from broadcasting.
— #ThankYouDoc (@NHLonNBCSports) October 19, 2020
As the former radio voice of the Nashville Predators I was a colleague of Doc’s for five years at the NHL level, but met him way before I made it. I remember him sitting in with the broadcasters at the ECHL league meetings when I was with the Augusta (GA) Lynx. Doc talked to us about the craft and even took notes from us to expand his vocabulary on calls. He showed us that notebook, crammed full of synonyms for every single situation you might encounter calling a game. I’ll never forget it.
Doc showed us up-and-comers a lot of things, whether by example or by storytelling. You can’t just show up and call water polo in the Olympics, but Emrick prepared himself for success by doing his homework. Much the same as that notebook, he made sure his scope and vision weren’t just narrowed to what was familiar. Emrick took the time to look at things from all angles. He found the stories and the ways to tell them. And if you watched water polo with him on the call, you somehow became invested. That’s excellence.
I’ve called games at every possible level of the sport from the long-gone Western Professional Hockey League to the NHL. I’ve learned a lot along the way, both what to do and what not to do. One thing I learned early on is that fans can tell passion. They know if you’re into the game and if you’re not. No one could ever doubt Doc’s passion for the game, and that was perhaps his greatest gift to hockey fans. When he called a game, it meant something. It didn’t have to be a Stanley Cup Final. Even those mid-week January (in a normal season) games contain memorable moments, and Doc could convey them with energy and excitement.
I know broadcasting is a subjective art like any other performance. But there are keys to greatness, and Doc Emrick leaves a wonderful roadmap for those who will follow.
Happy Trails, Doc. I’ll miss you.