And You Don't Have To Believe In Miracles to Get Excited
As the USA's 5-3 stunner Sunday over Canada in Olympic men's hockey continues to sink in, thoughts inevitably wander over to the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid 30 years ago, and all. Even if it was edited and on tape delay and some of us found out the score too early (thanks, Rene Poussaint), it was still a great moment and one that will define the career of Al Michaels doing the play-by-play.
So, it was pretty classy of him to tell Richard Sandomir in The New York Times how he was hardly wistful about not being behind the mic calling the games in Vancouver.
“Here’s the reality: Mike Emrick might be the best guy to ever call hockey,” he said, referring to NBC’s play-by-play announcer. “I can’t do it one-tenth as well.”
Which tells you all you pretty much need to know about Emrick, who the diminishing number of New York-area hockey fans have been able to enjoy for 20 years in his regular job as the TV voice of the New Jersey Devils.
There have been other stops along the way, but the Devils gave Doc (he has a PhD in broadcasting from Bowling Green) an entree to a much broader canvas on which he paints eloquent word pictures that are at once intelligent, insightful, and in perfect tempo with the pace of the game. He's an exquisite student of hockey, but he's never a show-off. The knowledge is parceled out only when needed. It's always about what's on the ice, not him.
As an example, Sandomir noted that Emrick said following a particuarly frantic period of play: “It’s kind of nice to have it peaceful right now. I hope I’m not yelling too much.”
Not to worry.
More recently, he's been calling Stanley Cup games and the Winter Classic on New Year's Day for NBC, so he's hardly a poorly kept secret. It's not like he only brings his A material for the network. He has no B material.
But viewers who only watch hockey once every four years will notice just how good hockey can be. And Emrick will be a big reason for that, no matter what the final score is.