This past Friday was a special day for New Jersey Devils’ fans of this generation as we paid tribute to the great voice of the Devils’, Mike "Doc" Emrick (earning the nickname for his PhD in Communications). Joining the Devils 21 seasons ago Emrick stormed onto the scene with his unique style of calling a game as well as his childlike enthusiasm that he displayed so routinely. What made Doc special was his unique insight on the game and his ability to explain a story with extraordinary detail. His knack for telling a quirky story such as the one about a young player shooting rocks at a tree to improve accuracy because it was too warm for ice to form (true story, I kid you not). Doc had a special way of bonding with the audience, captivating us with his limitless knowledge of statistics and history of the game, all in addition to being a fun "on-air" personality.
As a lifetime New Jersey fan I’ve known the voice of the team to be Doc & Chico (Glenn "Chico" Resch), one of the best announcing pairs I’ve seen across any sport. As a team these guys complemented each other perfectly, each having their individual strengths that the other lacked. Doc was always the lead guy, but with Chico being an Ex-Goalie for both the Islanders and Devils, he offered (and still offers) a different view of the game that Doc as a non-player could never emulate (not that he needed to). The tandem worked together for all three of the Stanley Cups the Devils have won in their history (95’,00’ and 03’), and they made each victory feel real & special because of how much they made their jobs part of their lives.
Today half the tandem still works for the Devils, that being Glenn "Chico" Rescch. Doc was chosen to be a lead announcer on all of the NHL’s biggest games working for NBC Sports. Emrick had been doing this for years already but on July 21, 2011 it became official as "The Dean of American Hockey" would sadly be moving on. This to all fans meant the insertion of Steve Cangialosi, the long time stat man of the team who earns his nickname, Mr. Know It All. Cangialosi is an intelligent announcer, but the void Doc left is still felt, and rightfully so.
On Friday, February 24th The Voice of the Devils was given his day, "Doc Night", and despite the team falling to the league leading Vancouver Canucks (2-1), all those who attended or watched from home got to hear Emrick give an inspired speech that touched on many key moments in the team’s history, coming from the man who called it all; it was very touching have seen the majority of the games he referenced. Great announcers only come around once in a while…..Docs’ only come around once ever. Thank You Mike "Doc" Emrick for the passion you displayed in your job, you made watching the New Jersey Devils the past 21 seasons a sports fan’s dream.
Comments? Who’s your favorite announcer?