There are occasionally moments that happen in sports that I just feel I have to write about. Where I just have to get my opinion out in a place more permanent than a tweet that will get lost in the sea.
Earlier this week, Mike "Doc" Emrick retired. To me there is no bigger hero. Very simply put the first sport I ever remember watching coherently was hockey. The 2011 Stanley cup finals between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins to be exact.
I, a Star Wars obsessed imaginative fifth grader who could care less about sports, was suddenly hooked. Not by the play on the ice but by a somewhat high pitched, enthusiastic voice. The voice of Doc Emrick.
Something about Emrick hooked me immediately. His enthusiasm. As a student of journalism now and a man grinding away at a terrestrial radio station while hosting a podcast and writing for a student newspaper, I live to replicate that enthusiasm.
You listen to a lot of people my age talk about sports on podcasts and media and they lack that. They are too focused on staying measured and steady. On saying all the right things. That has never been and never will be my approach. The way Doc called games you would think he was a school kid, excitedly reciting the events of schoolyard hockey. Every pass was exciting, every build up a measured piece of music, climaxing in pure joy: "HE SCORES!"
There are few voices I try to copy more than Doc. I know, that’s a bad idea, and I am slowly finding my own but his is the metronome, the gold standard. People praise Al Michaels but in truth he should have stepped away years ago. Emrick has always been the gold standard of the play by play announcer.
So many afternoons, spent in the backyard with a discount score hockey stick emulating highlights and calls in my head. I still do it sometimes (that’s embarrassing to admit I know). Occasionally though in every day life, Doc’s voice will slide into my head and "OH A GREAT GLOVE SAVE", will come blurting out of my mouth.
The man's vocabulary was second to none as well. Ricochet, carom, wallop, drive, gallivant, pirouette, spiked, fed -- a boundless jumble of perfect hockey words. The skill of course is the ability to call the fastest game on earth and pull from the vocabulary in a split second. Emrick will simply never be topped. He is the soundtrack of the Stanley Cup, he is a man who knew the gravity of the moment and always played to it. His excitement and enthusiasm can only be hoped to be matched by low level shock jocks like myself.
Without Emrick, I doubt I get hooked on hockey. I doubt I watch countless games with my dad and experience truly one of the greatest parts of our relationship. Emrick did that, he put me in a position to have those moments. His is the only voice in sports that truly gives me chills. He is my first love, and the reason I love hockey.
If you are reading this Doc, and I hope you do someday, I want you to know how much you meant to me and how much I will miss you. Hockey will not be the same without you, a titan, in the booth. I will miss our time together. I will miss my mother yelling at me to turn the TV down but the only way to experience you Doc is at full blast. When the teams score you yell, and I in tandem yell, and we fall into a moment of peace where it is just us, and the ice, and the goal horn, and the call.
Thank you, and I love you.