USA Hockey Magazine

August 2018

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AUGUST 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 35 M ike "Doc" Emrick may never have worked his 20th Stanley Cup Finals for NBC Sports this June without a lot of hard work, an undying dream and a little help along the way. The Indiana native was studying for his master's degree at Miami University when he would drive the 240-mile round trip from Oxford, Ohio, to attend Fort Wayne Komets games. Emrick chose weeknights because the smaller crowds allowed him to record himself calling the late 1960s International Hockey League contests without disturbing the rest of the ticket-buying public. The late Komets owner Colin Lister—per- haps at the behest of announcer Bob Chase, whose calls inspired a teenaged Emrick—gave the young man an IHL season pass, a windfall for a college student. It sustained Emrick's dream for the next several years before he got his big break. "It was the biggest present I ever got in hockey in my young life," Emrick recalled. "Boy, was I a big shot then!" Still, NHL fans came close to never hearing Emrick. With a two-year unpaid newspaper writing job in 1971 not advancing his media career, the then-25-year-old took the advice of his father to earn a doctorate degree. It looked like he was destined to teach and a Ph.D meant another $600 a year ($7,600 total) teaching broadcasting and public speaking at Geneva College near Pittsburgh. But then luck led to an opportunity. He chose Bowling Green State because the graduate assistant's job—which came open while he was considering BGSU or Michigan— required calling hockey games. That happy coincidence gave him the air time needed to develop an audition tape that garnered him his first job for Port Huron. After that, he applied at every minor league franchise he could find. "I got a lot of fancy stationary back," he said. "I saved them all. A lot of famous people signed those rejections. I still have them. But for $160 a week, I was in the hockey business. And after 45 years, I still haven't seen it all." The opportunities that developed from decades of hard work helped the six-time Emmy winner become the first media mem- ber inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011. Emrick, who turned 72 on Aug. 1, tracks how often he uses the same word and chides himself for repeats. That self-evaluation—a habit started during his days in the Fort Wayne stands—and an impressive vocabulary keep Doc, who in 1976 earned his doctorate, the origin of his nickname—atop his profession. "Maybe," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman h a s sa i d , " V i n S c u l l y i s t h e D o c E m r i c k of baseball." Deadspin once tabulated that he used 140 different combinations of words – dubbed Doc-isms by fans and media – for moving the puck during a single game. "I was one of those young guys asking announcers for advice, and Lyle Stieg, who was working for the Dayton Gems, told me there are only so many times you can say "dump in" before you're driving people nuts," Emrick said. "That was a good tip." The pleasure derived from learning new things and sharing them with fans makes the work enjoyable. He remains impressed with the discipline of players competing in a high- skill, full-contact sport and by how most han- dle themselves around the media and public. Airwaves 'Doc' Emrick's Passion For The Game Continues To Come Through Loud And Clear // By Joe Paisley PRIOR TO MAKING THE JUMP TO EXCLUSIVELY WORKING WITH NBC SPORTS IN 2011, MIKE "DOC" EMRICK WAS THE LONGTIME VOICE OF THE NEW JERSEY DEVILS, ALONG WITH GLENN "CHICO" RESCH. ALSO SHOWN HERE IS EMRICK'S WIFE OF 40 YEARS, JOYCE. PHOTOS BY Getty Images

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