In the realm of the NHL, if the words “shuffleboarding” and “pitchforked” come to mind, the thought of Doc Emrick is sure to follow close behind.
Legendary NHL broadcaster Michael “Doc” Emrick tapped into his past on March 22, when he spoke at a meeting of the Devils Fan Club in West Orange and later in an interview with WMSC.
“He’s the best announcer in the world,” Devils Fan Club Vice President Trudy Stetter said, introducing the broadcasting legend. “He’s the best friend a fan club could have.”
“Is that it?” Emrick said jokingly as he walked up to the podium and began to address a room full of loyal Devils fans. Almost every fan club member was sporting some type of Devils memorabilia, from jackets and jerseys to personalized Stanley Cup pendants.
Emrick was the Devils’ play-by-play announcer for many years. He later moved to national broadcasts on NBC and NBC Sports, where he currently broadcasts. The announcer became known for the unique language he would use while broadcasting — describing puck movement in ways like “skittered” and “backcheckered” instead of “slid.”
“Doc is the game,” Vick Studna, a member of the fan club for six years, said as he settled into his seat, pointing to the seat next to him where his son would usually have sat. His son couldn’t make it to the event because he was away at Monmouth University. “He’s taking communications,” Studna said, “really because of Doc.”
Emrick mustered up laughs from his fans after what seemed like every other sentence. He and Stetter exchanged stories and brought up memories from their past. Stetter mentioned that Emrick speaks at a meeting every year, so it is no surprise that he is on a first name basis with some of the members.
Many of the devoted members of the audience that night didn’t get to hear much of the eccentric broadcast slang Emrick became so nationally known for. “I’ve been in the stands for 90 percent of his games,” Carmen Chimento, a season ticket holder for 34 years, said. But, he could recall another memorable moment he shared with the icon.
Chimento went on to explain how he and his buddies had run into Emrick at a Red Robin after one of their many Devils games. ”Doc sat down with the 10 of us and told us stories until the restaurant told us to leave,” Chimento said. ”The man got up and thanked us for inviting him to our table — he was that kind of man.”
It was obvious that the impact Emrick had on this group of fans was everlasting. One fan described Emrick’s move from the Devils to his role at NBC Sports as “D-day for all of us.” Emrick currently resides about an hour north of Detroit, broadcasting routinely one game a week on NBC until the playoffs begin.
Emrick was delighted at the idea of being back at the Prudential Center, announcing for a familiar team. However, there’s only one way for that to happen according to Emrick: “The team needs to put up some Ws and get into the playoffs.”
If that happens, then maybe fans can look up and see that face they saw not so long ago bringing them a blast from the past.