Thank you, Michael “Doc” Emrick, for getting me into the world of covering hockey.
I have a lot of people to thank along the way, but as Emrick on Thursday announced he’d be leaving the New Jersey Devils’ booth and committing exclusively to NBC and Versus, it’s worth noting how the man I believe to be the best play-by-play broadcaster in hockey got me on this path.
When I was 4 years old, everyone in my class had an assignment to write a letter to someone about a future occupation. Growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, I wrote to Flyers owner Ed Snider about wanting to broadcast hockey. That letter made it to Emrick, who mailed a hand-written letter back.
Not only did Emrick encourage me, he invited me and my family up to the booth at the Spectrum to meet him and his color analyst at the time, Bill Clement. Growing up at times I wanted to be a bunch of different things, but that visit kept the idea of being around hockey in my mind.
My family and I stayed friends with Emrick over the years as he left the Flyers for the Devils’ organization, visiting him on occasion with my mom baking him brownies. We got to see his Stanley Cup ring and chat with him about his career – which didn’t really gain national acclaim until the late ‘90s.
Realizing I had a face for radio and a voice for print, I started writing but always wanted to be around hockey. When I was in Washington as a copy editor at The Times my first time around, I met with Emrick for lunch in Chinatown and again was encouraged to keep my dream alive. Around the same time, he was chosen as the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award winner to be presented at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
When my dream came true of covering the NHL for the Flyers and then the Capitals, I was always pleased to see Emrick in arenas and press boxes around the country. I’m glad I still will – and always take a few minutes to chat with him … that never steered me wrong before.
Please forgive this cheesy blog post, but I thought it worth every word to express the gratitude to Emrick for helping me get into this business.