Longtime New Jersey Devils broadcaster Mike “Doc” Emrick gave up his duties last week with MSG Network. As we reported at the time, the acclaimed play-by-play man will concentrate on calling national games on NBC and Versus.
“It was something that I had, at least, given some thought to during the playoffs,” Emrick tells FishbowlNY.
Emrick, who’ll turn 65 on August 1, was given time after the season to weigh the tough decision.
“It was a matter of me looking ahead,” Emrick says. “I’m fine now, I’m the same as I’ve been the last few years.”
But Emrick said the choice of leaving his beloved Devils first meant having the ability to look into his crystal ball.
“You have to project ahead on how much work you want to do or continue to do five to ten years ahead,” Emrick admits.
Despite his affinity for the Devils, Emrick wasn’t going to maintain the same pace that far into the future. With his three contracts expiring at season’s end, the timing was right for the legendary hockey voice to sign up for a reduced scheduled.
“The notion of doing 110 to 120 games as opposed to do 75 to 80, which I will under this new agreement, seemed more appealing because every game in hockey is a travel,” Emrick says. ”…If I could be beamed up like [in] Star Trek, we wouldn’t be talking about this,” Emrick says. “But unfortunately you do have to travel commercially and go from place to place.”
Ultimately, though, Emrick walked away from his Devils work after more than two decades. He faced the tough task of telling MSG Networks general manager and executive vice president Dan Ronayne and team president Lou Lamoriello about his plans.
“They were both hard calls to think about making,” Emrick admits. “Because you’re talking about a lot of years there with the team as well as [MSG] Network.”
Emrick says MSG and the Devils treated him like one of the family.
“Anybody has lots of great days but they also have difficult ones,” Emrick says. “…You couldn’t have had more supportive people in terms of making sure that if there was time off necessary–you got it.”
As play-by-play voice for the Devils three Stanley Cup Championships, Emrick says he’s lucky to have been part of so many memorable moments. And he wasn’t alone–there was also partner.
“Chico [Resch] and I aren’t club employees, we’re employees of Madison Square Garden Network,” Emrick says. “Yet, when the team wins we get a championship ring.”
And on the topic of those Stanley Cup winning rings, Emrick has fond memories for the Devils’ first win in 1995.
He also recalls a team highlight from the 2000 Conference Final in which New Jersey they trailed Philadelphia, three games to one.
“I never thought I’d see what I saw in those three games,” Emrick reflects.
The Devils battled the Flyers to a game seven victory, eventually capturing their second Stanley Cup.
Emrick keeps another memory close to his heart.
“The day-to-day interaction with the team and the fans, especially [since] we were really spoiled at the Meadowlands because people could come right up to us,” Emrick recalls.