I am a fairly young sports fan. My father had the pleasure of hearing the great Mel Allen call Yankee games when he was younger. I was too young to really remember Phil Rizzuto’s glory days in the booth. But both provided a fantastic soundtrack to the games people watched growing up. When they left, things just weren’t the same. Not worse, just not the same.
Mike “Doc” Emrick stepped down today as the New Jersey Devils play-by-play man ending a 21-year career with the team and MSG Networks. I could not be more sad and bummed out for myself and Devils fans around. The man was the soundtrack to my childhood. The first voice I ever heard calling hockey was Gary Thorne. Then a couple of years later Doc came back to the Devils and took over for the next 20 years and became the voice synonymous with the rise of a team I love so much. And the fact that he was the best in the business and WE had him as our play-by-play guy was really a treat. One that some of us may not have realized until the last couple of years. Just like how we get to tell our children we got to watch Martin Brodeur play every day, we can also tell them we got to listen to Doc Emrick every game.
Doc has lent his voice to so many historical, exciting moments in Devils history. The 3 OT game where Grant Marshall scored, Marty Brodeur’s 552nd win, and most memorably – even to him – was calling the cup-clinching game in 1995 for FOX. There are so many moments that Doc has been a part of. I could list them all here but the post could go on forever. We all remember his excellent vocabulary and his usual terms and phrases such as “waffle-boarded”, “pitchforked”, and “big driiiiiive”. And I’m sure we all learned some fun history about the players we had, and were playing against, when he would reference what junior team and small town in Canada a certain player was from (i.e. “Big man from Nova Scotia” – Colin White).
This post is sounding like an obituary but it shouldn’t be. Doc’s not gone completely. There is some good news. He will be calling games full-time for NBC/Versus during the next season. I am happy I’ll still get to hear him and NBC/Versus is committed to giving hockey a voice and place in the sports landscape. Having Doc on full-time to be the “the voice of hockey” is a great step in that direction. I’m sure the Devils will have a couple of games on Versus this year so we’ll get to hear him call some games. I often wondered how taxing it had been on Doc the last couple of years as he kept a rigorous schedule calling games for all networks. I guess we now know. Doc loves hockey. He loves to talk it even with fans. I have heard countless stories from other fans who talked with Doc and can’t say anything bad at all about him. I’ve run into him just quickly a couple of times and he always said hi with a smile, even if he was in a rush. And now we’ll get to hear him call games on the national level full-time. Which means when we make our run this year to the Cup, he’ll again be the voice of the team!
It’s a sad day for sure but it’s not the end. Doc has given all of us so many memories and so many moments that will live forever on YouTube. Thank you Doc for the 21 years you’ve given us. You’ve earned the bigger stage and lighter schedule. We all love you.
The Devils Army
Please feel free to leave your well wishes and favorite Doc memories below.