Behind the Broadcast: Emrick’s decision may irk Devils’ fans, but will benefit NHL on NBC

The good thing about taking a two-week vacation is it gave me a time to relax and have fun.


The good thing about taking a two-week vacation is it gave me a time to relax and have fun.

The bad thing about being off for two weeks is that the news from the TV sports scene never takes a day off.

There was plenty of interesting news that came out while I was away. Here are my thoughts on them.

u Mike “Doc” Emrick, the voice of the New Jersey Devils on MSG Plus since 1993, announced last Thursday that he was leaving the network to concentrate his energies on being the lead play-by-play voice of the NHL on NBC and Versus.

Emrick is the best hockey announcer out there. The insights he provides are outstanding. And he has always been a friend of college hockey.

I’ve never been a fan of the Devils — my loyalty is always to the Philadelphia Flyers. However, when I had the chance to watch a Devils game, I would just to hear Emrick call the game.

Personally, Emrick has been a friend of my family for over 25 years. He used to be the television play-by-play voice of the Flyers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and knew my parents because of their involvement in the Flyers Fan Club.

In a statement he wrote on the Devils’ website, Emrick said, “A good friend advised me several years ago that before any major decision, you should look in the mirror and look at your birth certificate.

“Since my contracts with MSG, Versus, and NBC all expired late this spring, this was another of those times. I discovered that the birth certificate couldn’t be changed, and it showed me to be 65 in a few days.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been able to spend 23 incredible years with the MSG Network channels and 21 equally enjoyable years — including three Stanley Cup championships — with the New Jersey Devils. However, considering the long-term signif­icance of this decision, I was able to construct a lighter regular season-schedule and the usual comp­lement of Stanley Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Final games for NBC and Versus.

“But that assurance of less travel and fewer games has regrettably led me to end my association with the MSG Network channels and the Devils.”

u While we’re talking hockey and Versus, it appears the network is interested in televising a weekly college hockey package starting in January

Versus wouldn’t comment, but numerous sources have indicated this could be a possibility. What conferences would be involved, or what night the games would be shown (either Friday or Saturday) is unclear right now. Versus, part of the NBC Sports Group, is the cable home of the NHL. A few months ago, the NBC Sports Group signed a 10-year deal to keep the NHL on NBC and Versus.

This has been a tumultuous offseason in college hockey. Several teams will be changing conferences for the 2013-14 season. Two new conferences, the Big Ten and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, will start on 2013-14.

It would be exciting to have a cable channel like Versus producing a weekly college hockey package. While CBS Sports Network (formerly CBS College Sports) and ESPNU offer games, those channels aren’t in as many homes of cable subscribers like Versus. And it would give Versus more of a hockey presence. It’s a win-win for everyone.

u Finally, TNT announced that the loquacious Shaquille O’Neal was joining the network as a studio analyst for its NBA coverage, provided the league settles the lockout issue.

O’Neal can be very funny. It will be interesting to see him match wits with fellow studio analyst Charles Barkley, who has never been known to keep quiet. That could be more entertaining than the games, if there are any.

Heck, even if the lockout delays the start of the season, let them go on the air every Thursday.

Parting shots

There will three horse races on TV this weekend. Versus and Versus HD will be at Saratoga Race Course today at 5 p.m. for the Diana Stakes and Jim Dandy Stakes. ABC10 and ABC10 HD has the Haskell Invitational at 5 p.m. Sunday. . . .

Two golf majors are on the docket over the weekend. NBC13 and NBC13 HD has the final two rounds of the U.S. Senior Open Championship at 3 p.m. today and Sunday. ESPN and ESPN HD televises the Women’s British Open at 10 a.m. today and 9 a.m. Sunday. . . .

ESPN and ESPN HD starts its NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage at 1 p.m. Sunday with the Brickyard 400. ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise the Brickyard pole qual­ifying at 2 p.m. today. . . .

TBS and TBS HD carries the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Categories: -Sports-

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