Mike 'Doc' Emrick retiring as hockey play-by-play broadcaster

NHL announcer Doc Emrick retires from broadcasting (0:58)

Emily Kaplan reflects on longtime NHL announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick's storied broadcasting career. (0:58)

Longtime NHL announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick is retiring as a broadcaster Monday.

"I hope I can handle retirement OK, especially since I've never done it before," Emrick told the New York Post. "But I've just been extremely lucky for 50 years. And NBC has been so good to me, especially since the pandemic, when I was allowed to work from home in a studio NBC created.

"Now, into my golden years, this just seemed to be the time that was right."

Affectionately known as "Doc" for his doctorate in communications, Emrick, 74, has been the preeminent voice for NHL games on NBC and NBC Sports for 15 years. He served as the play-by-play announcer for the New Jersey Devils for 21 seasons.

Emrick's résumé includes calling 22 Stanley Cup Finals and winning eight Sports Emmy Awards for play-by-play, including seven straight from 2014 to 2020. He had stints at ESPN and ABC as well as Fox and CBS and at six Olympic Winter Games.

In 2008, Emrick was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame, which awarded him the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to hockey broadcasting. In 2011, he was the first announcer inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

"As time passed, I became more comfortable with myself and the fact that I was flawed and there was no way I was ever going to do a perfect game and probably the mistake was to try to do it that way," Emrick said. "I just enjoyed the fact that I was given a free seat, a good seat, and I got to work with some of the best athletes in the world and then twice a month I got something in the mail, and it was really good."

He said "it seemed like it was time" to step away from full-time broadcasting to enjoy more time with his family while in his mid-70s. He said 100% of his proceeds from a book about his life and career coming out Tuesday will go to hands-on care of animals.

Emrick has spent the past four decades as a beloved part of the hockey community -- a rapid-fire storyteller known to the public for his countless verbs to describe the puck moving around a rink and to friends and colleagues for his warmth and personal attention to the sport and the people in it.

"When you have a job like that, you're never working the rest of your life," Emrick said last year, pausing to explain why he takes time to talk to anyone who approaches him for a conversation, photo or autograph. "I always do because I'll miss it when it doesn't happen."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Emrick "didn't just master" announcing hockey, "he transformed it into art."

"The risk one takes in saying something about Doc Emrick is that you know he could have worded it better himself -- on the spur of the moment, with 20,000 screaming in his ears (or up to 105,000 in the rain, snow and/or bitter cold), to a national broadcast audience relying on him to get it just right," Bettman said in a statement. "In the 103-year history of the National Hockey League, nobody has ever conveyed the sights, sounds, passion, excitement, thrills and intricacies of our game better.

"... The game, of course, goes on. But it never again will sound quite the same."

NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood called Emrick "a national treasure."

"It has been a privilege and education on hockey's biggest stage to have sat next to Doc for the last 14 years," NBC color analyst Ed Olczyk said. "I will miss his stories, his preparation, his play-by-play, his friendship and our dinners on the road."

Emrick got his first taste of hockey in Pittsburgh during the 1970-71 season as a freelance reporter for the Beaver County Times. He earned a Ph.D. in broadcast communications from Bowling Green a few years later and progressed through the minors before reaching the NHL.

After calling an estimated 3,750 games during his career, Emrick will continue to write and narrate video essays as part of NBC Sports' NHL coverage.

"Things change over 50 years, but much of what I love is unchanged from then to now and into the years ahead," Emrick said in a statement. "I still get chills seeing the Stanley Cup. I especially love when the horn sounds, and one team has won and another team hasn't, all hostility can dissolve into the timeless great display of sportsmanship -- the handshake line. I leave you with sincere thanks."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.