Mike “Doc” Emrick estimates he’s called more than 3,750 pro and Olympic hockey games over his 47-year career.
But NBC Sports’ celebrated NHL announcer — who announced his retirement Oct. 19 — pointed to one particularly favorite call.
It came during a telecast of a men’s preliminary hockey game during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia. In a replay of the 1980 Olympics, Team USA again beat Team Russia — this time with Russian President Vladimir Putin in attendance.
The American hero of the day was NHL star T.J. Oshie, who scored four times during the shootout round.
As a hockey historian, Emrick immediately flashed back to Team USA’s upset of the heavily-favored Soviet Union in 1980. He asked his producer to get a shot of fans leaving the arena in Russia’s largest resort city.
Then Emrick instantly connected viewers to the stirring pregame speech of Team USA coach Herb Brooks 34 years before.
“So many paid their rubles to see the home team win. Not this game. Not tonight,” Emrick told Olympic viewers worldwide.
As paraphrased in the 2004 movie “Miracle,” the late Brooks told his young Team USA players before the game: “If we played ‘em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight.”
Emrick was even more impressed with Oshie’s response when they met up later during an NHL game in the U.S.
Emrick asked Oshie if his Olympic heroics during five sudden death shootout rounds was the most significant event in his life. No, said Oshie. The most significant event was witnessing the birth of his first child.
“That was awesome,” Emrick recalled.
The stats for the 74-year-old announcer’s broadcasting career speak for themselves. Among the highlights:
- Called 22 Stanley Cup Finals, including the last 15 for NBC.
- Called 45 Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7’s.
- Called 19 Winter Classic and Stadium Series games.
- Called 14 NHL All-Star Games.
- Called six Olympic Winter Olympics.
- Called the most-watched NHL game on record: the St. Louis Blues vs. Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the 2019 Finals, which averaged 8.9 million viewers.
- Won eight Sports Emmys for play-by-play; the most all-time.
- Member of seven Hall of Fames.
- The first broadcaster inducted into U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
A who’s who of sports names called in for Emrick’s farewell conference, including NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NBC producer Sam Flood and his on-air partner of 14 years, Ed Olczyk, who choked up during the call.
NBC colleague Al Michaels said Emrick brought the game of hockey to life for TV viewers the way John Madden did for football fans. Emrick was known to use over 150 verbs during a game just to describe the movement of the puck.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Emrick called the most recent Stanley Cup Finals from a home studio. In retirement, he’ll occasionally write and narrate essays for NBC in the future.
“Please let it be fake news,” Michaels joked about Emrick’s retirement.
Unfortunately, it isn’t. The Doctor won’t be in the house for NBC next season.