It was during the middle of this summer’s Stanley Cup Playoffs that Mike Emrick had a revelation.
Monday, he acted on it, as the 74-year-old announced he is hanging up his headset after spending 50 years in hockey media.
“I was told by people that had retired that you would know when,” Emrick said Monday during a conference call with reporters. “In the middle of the playoffs this year, probably between rounds two and three, it registered with me that this was the time. I realized that all of those guys that I have talked to were right [and] that you will know when it’s time. This seems like the right time.
“I think it was reinforced with the fact that my health was still good, and [wife] Joyce’s health was still good and that we have creatures [pets] that were doing OK. So this all seemed like the right time. I don’t want to go overboard on this, but the round number of 5-0 seemed like another thing that reinforced that I had a really wonderful time doing this.”
Affectionately known as “Doc” because he has a Ph.D. in broadcast communications from Bowling Green State University, Emrick spent the last 15 years as the lead play-by-play voice of the NHL on NBC. Moving forward, he will still contribute essays to NBC’s NHL broadcasts.
Emrick began his hockey career in 1970 covering the Pittsburgh Penguins as a freelance reporter for the Beaver County Times. He moved into the broadcast booth in 1971, calling Bowling Green hockey. Emrick joined the professional hockey broadcasting ranks in 1973 when he began a four-year stint as the play-by-play voice of the Port Huron Flags in the International Hockey League. He moved to Portland, Maine, with the American Hockey League’s Maine Mariners in 1977. He joined the Mariners’ NHL parent team, the Philadelphia Flyers, as the cable TV play-by-play man in 1980.
The NHL team Emrick is most associated with is the New Jersey Devils, working for the team on SportsChannel New York, FOX Sports Net and MSG Networks from 1983-86 and again from 1993-2011. Emrick was a part of three Stanley Cup championships with the Devils (1995, 2000 and 2003). He stepped down from the Devils after the 2010-11 season to concentrate on his NBC duties.
Besides NBC, Emrick was the lead national play-by-play voice for the NHL on ESPN (1986-88) and FOX Sports (1995-99).
Some of the numbers surrounding Emrick are staggering:
- 3,750+: Professional and Olympic hockey games covered.
- 47: Seasons broadcasting pro hockey.
- 45: Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7s called.
- 22: Stanley Cup Finals covered.
- 19: NHL Winter Classic and Stadium Series games called.
- 8: Sports Emmy Award wins for Outstanding Sports Personality — Play-by-Play.
- 7: Total halls of fame he’s in, plus how many consecutive Sports Emmy Award wins he recorded from 2014-20.
During Monday’s conference call with reporters, Emrick got congratulations from several prominent members of the NHL and NBC.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: “You have been significantly magnificent at your craft. You have been a magnificent representative of hockey the last 50 years, particularly the NHL. There’s nobody who does play-by-play as well as you do.”
NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk, Emrick’s partner the last 14 years: “We all thank you, Doc, for your passion, your love for the game, your appreciation, love for people and I thank you for trusting me 14 years ago when Sam [Flood, NBC and NBCSN executive producer and president of production] gave me the opportunity to sit next to you for the very first time on NBC.”
New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello, who was the Devils’ GM when Emrick was there: “The years we spent in New Jersey, I cherish, not only the professionalism you brought to our organization, not only sharing our first Stanley Cup [and] the calling of it, but the relationship that began as people.”
Al Michaels, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” announcer: “You have made the game so much more relevant, interesting, relatable, exciting and just in listening to you, people who love hockey, and I’m in that cult, we love it. But you also brought a lot of people into the game who might not otherwise have paid attention to hockey.”