Longtime announcer Mike Emrick is retiring after nearly 50 years
Mike Emrick in the broadcast booth, where he spent almost 50 years: “I still get chills seeing the Stanley Cup.”
Mike Emrick’s professional broadcasting career began in 1974, in Port Huron, and ended on Monday.
The 74-year-old Emrick, who is nicknamed Doc, has been hockey’s pre-eminent play-by-play announcer in the U.S. since he first called games for the Port Huron Flags of the old International Hockey League during the 1974-75 season.
He has been NBC’s lead play-by-play man on its broadcasts of NHL games since 2008.
Emrick, who lives in St. Clair, Mich., with his wife, Joyce, received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for broadcasting excellence from the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008. He earned the Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to hockey in the U.S. in 2004, the first of only five to have won the award for media work.
He also won seven national Emmy Awards for excellence in broadcasting, the only hockey broadcaster to receive even one. He became the first member of the media to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Emrick got his start covering hockey as a print reporter. He covered his first NHL game in Pittsburgh in 1971 for a small publication in Pennsylvania.
“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,” "Gordie Howe was a Red Wing, Bobby Hull was a Blackhawk, Bobby 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.
“Things change over 50 years, but much of what I love is unchanged from then to now and into the years ahead. I still get chills seeing the Stanley Cup. I especially love when the horn sounds, and one team has won and another team hasn’t, all hostility can dissolve into the timeless great display of sportsmanship – the handshake line. I leave you with sincere thanks.”
Emrick called 22 Stanley Cup finals, 19 Winter Classic and Stadium Series games, 14 NHL All-Star games and six Olympics.
His did his last Cup final as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Dallas Stars in six games last month in the NHL’s bubble in Edmonton. He called the game from a studio in his home set up for him by NBC Sports.
“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 a statement. "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.”
Emrick will remain active with NBC by occasionally writing and narrating video essays for its NHL coverage in the future.