When I was a young lad, I always wanted to be either Fred Cusick or Bob Wilson. Two men whom I still consider the greatest hockey play by play men in my history of hockey. The great Dan Kelly was also one of the best and his call of the Canada Cup Series in 1987 remains in my mind today. Just an outstanding call of a great series. Back in 1984 when I first got cable and WWOR out of Secaucus, NJ was broadcasting New Jersey Devils games, I would watch them because it was hockey. It didn’t matter that they were from NJ or the Devils were not that good, it was hockey and I had no life during the NHL season. As I’m watching the games, I’m hearing the play-by-play announcer using phrases and terminology that I had never heard before. He was describing more than passes and checks and saves. He was describing how those passes were made and checks were given out with words, likes shovels, snarling, and fought off. All phrases that I had not heard of to describe hockey games. I found myself smiling while I watched games and wanted to hear more of what this guy had to say. A year or so later, they took the games off of my cable system and as quickly as I found him, he was gone from Boston air. There was no internet to look up the Devils announcer. It wasn’t until I got into this media business and that announcer, (who at that time had a lot of “hair” on his head), was doing a broadcast from the Boston Garden and I put the face with the voice.
Mike “Doc” Emrick was honoured over the weekend with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, enshrining him in the broadcasters’ wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. After more than two decades and more than 2000 hockey games broadcast, he joins the aforementioned Kelly, Cusick and Wilson among the greats who know how to call a game without the histrionics and hyperbole. He will be at his craft tonight as it looks the Stanley Cup will be hoisted tonight in Detroit. Congratulations Mr. Mike Emrick.