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At the top of his game, we're lucky to be able to hear Emrick

Jun 12, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

I was sure hoping the New Jersey Devils had one more win in them during this year's National Hockey League Season. They didn't. Instead, Los Angeles skated to a 6-1 Stanley Cup finals win in a game six that gave the Kings their first ever Cup with a 4-2 series win Monday.

The game essentially was over in the first period after Steve Bernier, a 6-3, 220-pound right wing, was sent to the Devils' locker room for good when he was whistled for a five-minute major penalty that cost the Devils not one, not two, but three goals in a quick span.

Bernier didn't watch the game from the locker room, but he heard, and he knew.

And I wanted to "hear" some more too. That is why I wish this thing could have went to a game seven, or even a game nine, for that matter.

Hockey is blessed to have who I consider the best play-by-play announcer in any sport.

Mike "Doc" Emrick is the lead announcer for NBC's telecasts of National Hockey League games. He's been on the national stage since 1992 and his call of the sport seems perfect. He was on his game Monday night, his call perfect with tone, inflection, accuracy, emotion and speed.

At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Emrick had the call for the gold medal game between the United States and Canada. That match was watched by almost 35 million viewers and attracted the largest U.S. audience for a hockey game since the "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" United States vs. Russia 1984 game that thrust Al Michaels into the top echelon of broadcasters.

Earlier in the Vancouver Olympics, before the U.S. lost the gold medal, the Americans beat Canada 5-3.

Late in that match at the then-named Canada Hockey Place, Ryan Kesler made a spectacular goal to seal the win for the U.S.

Here was Emrick's call:

"It's off Ryan Miller. Hooked back along further Niedermayer. Quite a dual with Langenbrunner. It is Zachary Parise. Net empty. Charging after it is Kessler. Going back is Perry. Kessler SCORES!"

His knowledge of hockey has been called encyclopedic. He has already been enshrined in the NHL Hall of Fame.

As Sports Illustrated said, "In hockey, there is Mike Emrick, and then there is everyone else."

Emrick, a rare broadcaster who has earned a PhD, wrote his thesis as a doctoral student at Bowling Green University that was titled "Major League Baseball Principal Play By Play Announcers: Their Occupation, Background And Personal Life."

His mentor while writing was the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame announcer Ernie Harwell of the Detroit Tigers.

One great, great broadcaster helping another.

Emrick's wife Joyce says, "He still prepares for each game as if it was his first. I can't really account why the passion grabbed him, but it did. I find it amazing, but I think it is something he will go to his grave with."

Let's hope that is a long, long time from now.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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