There aren’t many broadcasters in the sports world that have the credentials that Mike Emrick has acquired in his 47-year career as a hockey broadcaster. Emrick, known by many as Doc because of the doctorate he earned in broadcast communications from Bowling Green University, announced his retirement on Monday morning, ending a Hall of Fame broadcasting career.
Emrick, 74, began his career calling hockey games at his alma mater, Bowling Green, from 1971-73 before he began his professional career with Port Huron of the International Hockey League and Maine of the American Hockey League. Emrick joined the New Jersey Devils as their play-by-play voice in the 1982-83 NHL season where he stayed until 1986. He joined the Philadelphia Flyers organization where he had several roles until becoming the lead play-by-play man in 1988 where he stayed until the end of the 1992-93 season.
Doc returned to the Devils in 1993 where he stayed until July 2011. He took on the role of lead play-by-play announcer for the NHL on NBC in 2005 and he remained in that position until his retirement on Monday.
Emrick estimated that he has called over 3,750 professional and Olympic hockey games. He has worked 22 Stanley Cup Final series, 19 NHL Winter Classic and Stadium Series, 14 NHL All-Star games and part of six Olympic Winter Games in his storied career.
On top of those numbers, Emrick has also won eight sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Personality, the first in 2011 and then consecutively from 2014-2020. He is a member of seven hall of fame’s including the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
“It was 50 years ago this fall, with pen and pad in hand at old Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, I got my first chance to cover the National Hockey League,” Emrick said in a video released by NBC Sports on Monday.
“I especially love when the horn sounds and one playoff team has won and another of course hasn’t. All hostility dissolves into that timeless great display of sportsmanship-the handshake line. 60 years since I saw my first game, 50 years since I first reported on the NHL, 40 years of calling NHL games and I am always heartened to see this.”
Emrick’s final game was the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final when the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in game six. As his career as a play-by-play broadcaster comes to an end, Emrick still plans on doing some work for NBC like the essay he did yesterday announcing his retirement.
With the news of his retirement making its way around the sports world, speculation soon began on who would replace Emrick as the lead play-by-play announcer at NBC. Three names have been brought up as leading contenders to become Emrick’s replacement next season.
Kenny Albert, John Forslund and Mike Tirico lead the short list. Richard Deitsch on Twitter named Albert as being the likely successor to Emrick. Albert is the current radio voice of the New York Rangers. Albert is the only sportscaster in history that does play-by-play for all four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL). Albert also calls games for the NHL on NBC currently.
Forslund’s name is getting a lot of traction because his time as the Carolina Hurricanes play-by-play announcer came to an end at the end of this season. Forslund had been a part of the Hurricanes organization since 1991 and has called games for them since 1995 when they were the Hartford Whalers.
Contract negotiations between Forslund and the Hurricanes front office were well publicized back in the summer, and the two sides were unable to come to an agreement and Forslund is no longer with the organization.
Forslund has been doing games for the NHL on NBC for sometime now, and many fans of the Carolina Hurricanes have long thought that Forslund would leave the team to take the lead play-by-play job if it became available. It seems quite convenient timing for Emrick to retire and Forslund not having a contract with a NHL team.
Mike Tirico came to NBC Sports in 2016 after a 25 year career with ESPN. Tirico was the NFL play-by-play announcer for ten years on Monday Night Football.
Tirico is not well known for his hockey coverage, but he has done it in the past and if there is one thing we know about Mike Tirico, it is that he is as versatile as a play-by-play announcer gets.
Tirico’s resume includes lead host of golf coverage, Olympics host, lead play-by-play for Notre Dame football, host of all of the Triple Crown races on NBC, host of Sunday Night Football on NBC, college football, college basketball, tennis and World Cup soccer. He has also hosted NBC’s coverage of the Stanley Cup.
Already having Tirico under contract is a big plus for NBC, but considering all that Tirico handles for them it could be a stretch to try and nail him down to one thing. While the next weeks and months will make it more clear, there is one thing for sure: you cannot go wrong with any of those three options replacing Emrick.