The announcement of Mike Doc Emrick’s retirement this week was a disarming moment burning through the clouds of cynicism, if only for a moment.
Comparisons have been made between his departure and that of Fred M. Rogers, and they adapt. They both loved what they were doing and they loved the people they were doing it for. Both showed a sincerity, optimism and friendliness that was out of step with their time. One was famous for his warm sweater and comfortable shoes, while the other wore a vocal skewer that reminded you what it was like to relax in it.
It was time to evaluate the 50-year running time of one of the most famous sports television channels and assess how it has influenced the next generation of ice hockey systems – and not just in terms of style.
I’ve never seen anyone love anyone as much as the Doc told me this week, Brendan Burke, the voice of the New York islanders in the room. I wanted to go on Twitter and share a few stories before I looked around and realised that everyone has a story like mine. It made me feel less special, and at the same time it made him feel even more special to me.
Burke, 36 years old, grew up in northern New Jersey and listened to the New Jersey Devils. This way he can play the band I liked for their first album card, even though Emrick mentioned the competitions for the Philadelphia Flyers and ESPN in the 1980s. He was the voice of the devil at the local level before becoming the voice of the NHL at Fox national level in 1995 and then became the lead actor for NBC, then from 2005 on the Outdoor Life Network, which became Versus, and finally NBCSN.
He’s been the voice of hockey my whole life. We’re starting to see stations that have the same story. You’ll hear more and more about it in the game, Burke said.
Everett Fitchuk is one of those stations. A new voice from the Seattle octopus show grew up in Michigan and listened to Canadian voices like Jim Hewson, Bob Cole and Harry Neal. It wasn’t until college that he liked Emrick and saw him fight back.
I liked his description. I loved his passion. This could be a regular season game on Tuesday, and he calls the game seven of the Stanley Cup final, Fitzhugh told me. He takes every game and turns it into a game. And he’s so well-informed: He can call three different matches in one week with six different teams, and he is an expert in each of these matches.
They say that greatness is boring and genius flies, and it’s never more obvious than when you start playing with a broadcaster or a writer. There are technical aspects of Emric’s approach to broadcasting that have been adopted by others. Burke is trying to temper himself. Alex Faust, host of the Los Angeles Kings, noted that he was inspired by Emrik’s zeal and the way he acted as an NHL narrator.
But inspiration is not an imitation, in Emryk’s case it is, because there is no imitation. No one else can do this, Burke said. If I used his vocabulary or was as descriptive as he was, I was told to remain silent. It just doesn’t work. It’s too graphic for television, but it works for him.
It’s a simple recipe:
- Emric calls the game up as if it were broadcast on the radio and fills it with observations, explanations and side effects almost every moment of the game. His voice serves as a soundtrack for the plot and a detailed description of the events.
- The vocabulary is unparalleled in size and ingenuity. The goalkeeper’s shots tip the waffles. Cracks to the core of the boards. Big Lead blogger Stephen Douglas once counted 153 different verbs with which Emrick described the movement of the puck in a passage.
- It combines these two characteristics to adapt to the fluidity of the game, as Burke says.
My favourite example is when multiple goals are scored in the net and the goalkeeper decides to stop them. Emric would start one level – Letan shoots and saves, bounces and saves another! — …before increasing his sense of urgency, the puck is the losing style, here’s the alternation of MALKIN and LOUNDQUIST ! And then, when the whistle blows, it brings us all back to earth and acknowledges what we’ve all just been through: And the game’s stopped… Oh, my God!
I’ve never heard anyone else do this.
For me, the most important task of a player in a game is to bring energy into the building through the television. It’s not about player identification or chat statistics. He brings what you miss when you get home. He’s doing better than anyone. When he comes to the edge, you come to the edge, Burke said.
It was this enthusiasm that attracted Burke to Emrick at an early age.
I remember that an inexperienced TV presenter was fascinated by the fact that one person could say the word SCORES! and that everyone said the same word, but it was different. It’s a strange concept. He says that word, and he feels different. I didn’t notice it at the time, but it’s the energy and passion with which he calls the game that explodes, and you can feel it, Burke said.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Doc Emryk’s CV includes 22 Stanley Cup final calls and eight Sports Emmy Award wins for the competition, including seven consecutive wins from 2014 to 2020. AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Would it be naive and inaccurate to say that Emric made everyone feel the same way? Every TV company has its critics, and there are fans who just couldn’t pass Doc’s stick while watching the game.
It’s hard to listen to them. Burke was talking about the slander. It’s perfect for me. I mean, of course not, but I’m saying what he calls a hockey game is what I want to hear. If you don’t like it, you probably won’t like me either.
Some of these charades are born out of comparison. Some viewers preferred classical Canadian voices. Others wanted a broadcaster like Gary Thorne, who was Emric’s contemporary for 30 years, and another outstanding national voice in American ice hockey programming. Even today, when it comes to Emrick and Thorne, the fans have something like the Beatles versus the Stones: One was an artist with a unique sound, the other was just rock’n’roll, but we liked it, as my colleague John Buchigross explains:
Because they are so different that people are attracted to one of them, because the difference was so great. I have always had a preference for the language and skills that Emric brought with him. But I also love Rock’n’Roll, and no one perceives the crowd as Gary Thorn’s voice. You can’t measure one match after the other. It’s not about the metrics. That’s not a fire rhythm. But it’s a 75% vote. If you want to be a bodybuilder, you have to have big pectoral muscles. Schwarzenegger always won because he was the biggest. It’s the same with the show: You had that voice, that’s a good start. Gary had that voice.
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If Thorne was a drummer, Emric was a string department. They both draw emotions from a hockey game in different ways. But what made Emric different and, in my opinion, better was his sincerity. Not only what he outlined at his press conference this week, when he answered the journalists’ questions with his, and how is your dog doing? And I think the first time we talked about that was when you were about 5 years old, right?
It is also in his approach to hockey, which is talkative and hospitable, that the traffic of other broadcasters is bombarded.
For an occasional hockey enthusiast, he had a way to organize one, Fitzhoek said. We often see it at local stations because they are the voice of these teams. They’re gonna make a joke about her from the inside. If you have subscribers on a national level up to the first game spectators, you need to put them on a level that is interesting for beginners and not condescending to this 45-year-old subscriber. Doc explains the game perfectly, and he makes sure he doesn’t talk to people in the background.
I sincerely believe that one of the biggest tasks of the hockey media is to further develop the game. We can do this by covering the sport or by criticizing the coaches. We can do this by strengthening the new voices and showing the progress made in the game. Emric has many gifts as a TV presenter and many virtues as a man, but one of the greatest is his ability to invite so many people into his tent to watch the show.
Al Michaels, another legendary hockey system, said it was best to surprise the caller when Emrick resigned: I think of you as John Madden [in the NFL], as someone who was as important to the National Hockey League as anyone else, and I say that because you made the game much more relevant, interesting, vibrant and exciting. I think that by listening to you – people who love hockey and who are part of this cult, we love you – you have brought a lot of people into the game who otherwise would not have paid attention to hockey.
The cloak now catches the eye of speakers such as Faust, Burke and Fitzug, who will be the first local voice in Seattle’s octopus history. It is the task of every speaker who has been inspired by the team, pace and compassion of Doc Emrick. There won’t be another Doc Emrick in hockey. But in hockey, it would be nice to be a little more like Doc Emrick.
1. GM Blackhawk’s Stan Bowman made a dozen appearances in national and local media this week to discuss the direction the team is taking after Captain Jonathan Tewes announced his displeasure with the recovery.
The expectation of the other leaders of this team and myself is to come to training camp every year as a play-off team, Athletics Tewes said. We’re getting ready to win the cup for our fans. I was never told we were renovating. They never told me anyway. A large part of this project is a shock, because it is going in a completely different direction than we had planned.
In addition to the fact that… it wasn’t a shock? Bowman said he talked about the direction of the team during and after the season with Toews and the team management.
Maybe the idea that everything changes is such that it’s hard for him to get used to it? I don’t want to speak for him, I’m just guessing. I think there may have been a breach. Bowman told our Emily Kaplan. Actually, not much has changed in the team. Our team will continue to invest and develop young players over the next two or three years so that we can surround Jonathan with the best coaches to put some pressure on him. Because some guys have a hard time carrying that burden.
Well, there you go. The team will be rebuilt for about three years. So, will he be ready when [check comment] Toews and Patrick Kane are completely independent? О…
In each episode Emily Kaplan and Greg Viszynski bring you the latest news, big editions and special guests of the NHL. Listen to me very carefully.
2. I always like it when managers who are clearly rebuilt try to define their rebuilding as something more than just a reconstruction. In Bowman’s defense, he used the R-word: Recover… I’m not afraid of that word. But I don’t want it to mean that we’re trying to tear this team apart and assemble a whole new group of players over the next year and a half. But we need to restore the depth of our team. We don’t have enough players, from top to bottom, to compete with the best teams.
It is clear that you hear cowardly healing and that you think it is a bad tone. What the Blackhawks do is give their team back all the depth, except for a few players who gave them a commercial defense. Clearly, it’s not demolition work if there are two or three support beams left in the basement!
Bowman & Co. seems to have been inspired by two recent renovations. They published their own Rangers Letter to their fans, explaining that the old favorites were going away and the young faces were coming, and that there would be a lot of pain. But they also face the Los Angeles Kings; the Kings hope that their youth movement will synchronize with their aging core, Anze Copitar (33), Dustin Brown (35) and Drew Dowty (30).
And it could work! The rangers quickly recovered from conscription and the prize in the form of free agent Artemi Panarin, who unfortunately let Bowman go in 2017 for contractual reasons. The Kings have put together a deep and promising pool and now, with Quinton Bayfield, they have the jewel in the crown. Early last season, ESPN’s Chris Peters took Chicago to ninth place in the NHL and since then they have added Lucas Reichel as the highest seed. Why demolish when you can rebuild?
3. And that suggests that… Let’s say we put the core in new places: Kane returns to Buffalo to become Jack Ishel’s new best student (perhaps after Taylor Hall has taken the money and left); Duncan Keith reunites with Joel Quenneville in Florida; and Tewes becomes the French captain of Blue, White, and Red in Montreal. And no, we have no idea who the Blackhawks get in these deals or how it all works under a flat blanket. That’s why it’s a great casting, you idiot.
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Winners and losers weeks
The winner: Fitness in Seattle
Gary Roberts has been one of the most important players behind the scenes in recent years, influencing the training and condition of the players. Kraken hired him as his first sports science and performance consultant to help shape the team’s training centre.
Loser: Norfolk fans
The Admirals were the second EXL team to withdraw from the 2020-21 season because of the restrictions imposed by the COWID 19 pandemic and joined the Atlanta sidelines. The team quoted Virginia’s statement that there are 1,000 fans in the venue. Wait till next year and all that.
Winner: Jersey Fourth Las Vegas
I love the love of Vegas 4. T-shirt? https://t.co/aQzY5BeLAl pic.twitter.com/x4s5jS2WnS
– 21. Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) 21. Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 2020.
I have no idea what a reverse retro jersey is, although ascetics have been told to throw it away with a twist. Now we know what you’re thinking: How the Golden Knights can have an advantage if they don’t play in the NHL as long as Matthew Barzal. Well, Shin Beene reports that these T-shirts are inspired by the Las Vegas Thunder, the International Hockey League team that played there in 1999. Moreover, these jerseys are simple and probably better than at least two other team jerseys.
Loser: Good Duck Lovers T-shirts.
Any more leaks in the fourth sweater? That’s what you can expect from @GoldenKnights and @AnaheimDucks when the reverse retro series becomes official. Details on the blog.https://t.co/btEIDG89P7
– Aesthetics (@Aesthetics) 21. October 2020
The Wild Wing Duck T-shirts were funny back then. Surprisingly, it’s fun. It’s just awful. What should be a tribute to the colorful past of the team, seems instead to have adopted the original design in Minute Maid. It’s disgusting.
The winner: Joe Thornton
It cannot be said that the signing of the franchise, which has not won the Stanley Cup since 1967 and has not won a first-round play-off series since 2004, will allow Thornton to enjoy his first championship. But he’s closer to the Leaves than the Sharks, just to be sure. We hope Thornton will finally pick up the trophy… and that he’ll take the time to recreate the photos Patrick Marlo took with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and send them back to the Bay Area like an idiot.
Loser: People who hate Life but want Joe Thornton to win the Stanley Cup…
A bit of a jumbo choice, isn’t it?
Title Washing machine
- We’ve been in the headlines for over ten years and no one, and we mean no one, has learned not to use hockey bags to smuggle drugs.
- That Kraken hires someone from Microsoft for his front office is a bit much for Seattle. And then Howard Schultz explains beverage manager?
- This was Todd Bertuzzi’s top-level interview, including his attitude to gambling and his thoughts on the media: Sometimes I wasn’t very accommodating because I wasn’t ready for these things. I didn’t feel like talking every day. I was paid to play hockey and entertain the fans, not to write something in the paper. I don’t care what was in the paper, the stories you needed. I just wanted to play hockey and entertain the fans, that’s all I wanted to do.
- The Itzerman effect in Detroit. That’s what Bobby Ryan says: I left the room (after a conversation with Iserman) and told my wife: I think we’re gonna sign up in Detroit. I didn’t need to hear from anyone else.
- It’s a good piece on Mark Borovetsky’s sudden attack on Ottawa senators.
- Good work here by Sean Fitz-Gerald and Lisa Dillman, investigating why there are no more women talking about sports on the radio.
- Within EA Sports it was decided to restart the NHL 94 in the finals. We wanted to bring it back and give a different experience to people who may never have experienced it before, said Andy Agostini, senior producer at EA and host of NHL’s 94’s Rewind. I work with a lot of guys on the team who are much younger than me, and when you mentioned something like the ’94 NHL, they never played with Genesis or Super Nintendo.
- Report 538 on Diversity in Hockey: It is clear that it is not easy to put an end to racism in sport, let alone in the whole world. But there are concrete steps the NHL could take to make the competition and the sport more fair and inclusive.
In case you missed it with your ESPN friends.
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