Legendary hockey announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick has called it a career. Emrick officially announced his retirement Monday morning per a shared announcement with NBC Sports.
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
“I hope I can handle retirement OK,” he said Sunday night from his home in Michigan, “especially since I’ve never done it before. But I’ve just been extremely lucky for 50 years. And NBC has been so good to me, especially since the pandemic, when I was allowed to work from home in a studio NBC created.
Affectionately known as “Doc” for his doctorate in communications, Emrick, 74, has been the voice for NHL games on NBC and NBC Sports for 15 years. He served as the play-by-play announcer for the New Jersey Devils for 21 seasons.
“Now, into my golden years, this just seemed to be the time that was right.
“Plus, I’ve now accumulated enough frequent-flyer miles — to not go anywhere.”
Emrick is a 19-year cancer survivor. He earned his Ph.D. and nickname in broadcasting while at Bowling Green. He and his wife, Joyce, plus dogs and horses, have lived for years in Michigan.
NBC executive producer Sam Flood called him “a national treasure.”
“It has been a privilege and education on hockey’s biggest stage to have sat next to Doc for the last 14 years,” NBC color analyst Ed Olczyk said. “I will miss his stories, his preparation, his play-by-play, his friendship, and our dinners on the road.”
In 2008, Emrick was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame, which awarded him the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to hockey broadcasting.
“When you have a job like that, you’re never working the rest of your life,” Emrick said last year, pausing to explain why he takes time to talk to anyone who approaches him for a conversation, photo or autograph. “I always do because I’ll miss it when it doesn’t happen.”
Emrick worked the Stanley Cup Final 22 times, 45 Stanley Cup Playoffs/Final Game 7s, six Olympics, 14 NHL All-Star Games and 19 NHL 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 Jan. 1, 2008. Emrick estimated he’s called more than 3,750 professional and Olympic hockey games.
“Things change over 50 years, but much of what I love is unchanged from then to now and into the years ahead,” Emrick said in a statement. “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.”
The Washington Capitals congratulated Emrick on his career:
Congrats on your illustrious career, Doc! Your voice on @NHLonNBCSports broadcasts, your presence @CapitalOneArena, and the opportunity to work with you will be greatly missed. We wish you the best in your post-career pursuits. Thank you for making our game better! #ThankYouDoc pic.twitter.com/WBuqmYEUgd
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) October 19, 2020
— Captain (@CapsPup) October 19, 2020
Congratulations and tributes from across the hockey world were also made Monday morning:
In 1989 I walked into the office of Ed Anderson, then President of the Maine Mariners. He was about to offer me my first broadcasting job. Just before doing so he pointed to a picture of Doc & said, “do yourself a favor, be like him.” Wonderful advice to honor the consummate pro. https://t.co/WioFCNh0at
— Joe Beninati (@JoeBpXp) October 19, 2020
10 years ago, Doc helped inspire my career in hockey. It was an honor getting him his PB&J’s (crust cut off of course) back then. 10 years later, he made the time to come on my no-name podcast. The sound of the game will forever be different. Enjoy retirement, doc! #DocEmrick pic.twitter.com/poiibzS8s7
— Chris Barriere (@chrisbarriereTV) October 19, 2020
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 19, 2020
Doc Emrick is, of course, known as the voice of hockey in the United States. But hockey wasn’t the only sport he called. Listen to the unlikely way Brett Favre completed his first pass and you can’t miss that distinctive voice. https://t.co/00WwdhfoBz
— Russ Levine (@pudge44) October 19, 2020
I mailed a Pirates mask to Doc Emrick this summer. He wrote a priceless letter back and sent money for God’s sake. Thought you’d all enjoy. What a legendary human being: pic.twitter.com/OypGYrf0D4
— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) October 19, 2020
Happy Retirement to Mike “Doc” Emrick! The legendary broadcaster loved Hershey, always mentioned the Bears on air, & often returned to Chocolatetown to emcee events. We wish all the best to a great friend of the organization. #ThankYouDoc for all the memorable calls and moments! pic.twitter.com/COfYb2xUNA
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) October 19, 2020
So, Doc Emrick would handwrite his own colour-coded game sheet before every hockey game he called.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) October 19, 2020
PRESS RELEASE FROM NBC SPORTS
HOCKEY, USA – October 19, 2020 – Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, among the most acclaimed, respected and beloved sportscasters of all time, announced his retirement today following a 47-year career broadcasting professional hockey, including the last 15 as the lead play-by-play voice for NBC Sports’ NHL coverage.
Synonymous with hockey in the United States, Emrick rose from calling college and minor league hockey in the 1970s to voicing the most important hockey games of the past three decades, including 22 Stanley Cup Finals, 45 Stanley Cup Playoffs/Final Game 7s, six Olympics, NHL Winter Classics and All-Star Games. In all, Emrick estimates he has called more than 3,750 professional and Olympic hockey games, thrilling viewers with an unmatched style that blended fevered excitement with an endless vocabulary of words to describe the puck’s movement around the rink.
Acclaim for his work is unmatched. In 2011, Emrick became the first broadcaster ever inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. In all, he’s a member of seven Halls of Fame. That same year, Emrick won the first of his eight career Sports Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play, which is the most ever in the category, including an unprecedented run of seven consecutive in the years 2014-2020.
Although retiring, Emrick will remain a member of the NBC Sports family by occasionally writing and narrating video essays for its NHL coverage in the future.
“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,” said Emrick. “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.”
“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.”
“It has been a privilege and education on hockey’s biggest stage to have sat next to Doc for the last 14 years,” said NBC Sports’ lead NHL analyst Eddie Olczyk, who shared a booth with Doc for the past 14 seasons. “I will miss his stories, his preparation, his play-by-play, his friendship, and our dinners on the road. But most of all, I will miss his trust. My family and I wish him, Joyce, the pups and horses lots of love down the road.”
Emrick’s career started during the 1970-71 NHL season, when he covered the Pittsburgh Penguins as a freelance reporter for the Beaver County Times. Emrick is affectionately known as ‘Doc’ because he received his Ph.D. in broadcast communications from Bowling Green State University in 1976.
He called college hockey (Bowling Green, 1971-73) and minor league hockey (IHL’s Port Huron Flags, 1973-77; AHL’s Maine Mariners, 1977-80) before moving to the NHL, where he called games for three NHL teams, including roughly 20 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, as well as three broadcast networks over the past four decades.
Doc ‘By the Numbers’
- 3,750+ Professional and Olympic hockey games
- 100+ Different verbs used to describe a shot or pass
- 50 Seasons covering hockey
- 1970-71: NHLWA reporter covering the Pittsburgh Penguins
- 1971-73: Bowling Green State University (play-by-play)
- 1974-2020: IHL, AHL, NHL
- 47 Seasons broadcasting professional hockey
- 1973-1977: Port Huron Flags (IHL)
- 1977-80: Maine Mariners (AHL)
- 1980-83, 88-93: Philadelphia Flyers
- 1983-86, 93-2011: New Jersey Devils
- 1986-88: New York Rangers (radio)
- 1986-88, 2000-04: ESPN/ABC
- 1995-99: FOX Sports
- 2006-2020: NBC Sports (exclusive since 2011)
- 45 Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7s
- 22 Stanley Cup Finals
- Most-watched NHL game on record (8.9 million viewers); Blues-Bruins Game 7 (2019)
- Most-watched Final on record (5.753 million viewers; 6 games); Blackhawks-Bruins (2013)
- 19 NHL Winter Classic and Stadium Series games
- First-ever NHL Winter Classic; Penguins-Sabres (2008)
- Most-watched NHL regular-season game on record (4.53 million viewers); Capitals-Penguins (2011 NHL Winter Classic)
- 14 NHL All-Star Games
- 8 Sports Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play
- Most ever in the category
- Unprecedented seven consecutive from 2014-2020
- 7 Halls of Fame
- 1997: Port Huron, Mich., Sports Hall of Fame
- 2008: Foster Hewitt Award presented by the Hockey Hall of Fame
- 2010: Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame
- 2011: U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame
- 2019: Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame
- 2019: National Sports Media Hall of Fame
- 2020: Fort Wayne Komets Hall of Fame
- 6 Olympic Winter Games
- Most-watched hockey game in 40 years (27.6 million); Vancouver 2010 USA-Canada Gold Medal Game
We wish you “marvelous chaos” in your retirement, “Doc”.
By Jon Sorensen