Emrick: Neither rain, nor snow ...

Devils' MSG Plus announcer set to broadcast second Winter Classic

Tuesday, 12.30.2008 / 9:33 AM ET / Features
Share with your Friends

Emrick: Neither rain, nor snow ...
Wrigley Field hosts the 2009 Winter Classic on New Year's Day.
There was a time during the second period of the 2008 NHL Winter Classic when any hot dog or refreshment purchased likely was saturated by the sleet that dropped on Ralph Wilson Stadium and the 70,000-plus in attendance in Orchard Park, N.Y.

It was during that same period when NBC play-by-play man Mike Emrick watched in dismay as his alphabetically ordered string of notes wash away before his very eyes.

Today, Emrick, perhaps the most renowned NHL broadcaster in the business, can laugh about it.

"It was sort of sidebar humor just to give (the viewing audience) some idea what the fans were going through because we were like they were -- out in the elements," Emrick told NHL.com. "We weren't under protection, so just as the fans got drenched and their hot dogs got damp and cold, so did our notes. This year, I'm going to try and bring some kind of plastic covering. The hard thing is, though, if you add to your notes over the course of the afternoon, you have to lift the plastic."

To be perfectly honest, whether or not "Doc" was forced to add to his notes, you kind of get the feeling his encyclopedic knowledge of the game and its players would suffice.

"I think you approach this game differently than a regular season game because you have so many things that can happen, and last year some of them did," Emrick said. "Our (NBC) producer, Sam Flood, has all kinds of things in his bag that he can bring out if he needs to, but I think what all of us strive for is to bring all the elements that you feel people would enjoy. People usually enjoy hearing about the personal elements rather than how many goals a team has scored in their last five power-play attempts.

"Of course, you certainly don't want to overload (the viewers) with information. You want the event to sell itself and, sometimes, as it did last Jan. 1, it will, without a lot of words."

We consider this game a really important telecast because of its potential of reaching new people to the sport of hockey - Mike Emrick
Emrick once again will provide play-by-play for NBC's coverage of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day. Joining the 2008 Foster Hewitt Award winner will be Chicago native and color commentator Eddie Olczyk, ice-level reporter Pierre McGuire and studio analyst Mike Milbury.

"We consider this game a really important telecast because of its potential of reaching new people to the sport of hockey," Emrick said. "Our sport has always been about playoffs, so in one regard it's hard to say a regular-season game has the gravity of playoffs. But in the overall appeal of the sport and the potential that the sport has, it's probably as great on Jan. 1 as it would be on a day in June when so many hockey teams have been eliminated. That's the most exciting time of the year for hockey fans.

"That said, I think the Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are in the same solar system as far as importance, let's put it that way."

Emrick vividly recalls the spectacle that was Ralph Wilson Stadium prior to the opening faceoff between the Sabres and the Penguins last season, and is looking forward to the pregame festivities at Wrigley.
"I spoke to each of the four officials a few weeks later when it was all over to ask their memories of it all," Emrick said. "One of them told me, 'You know, that whole afternoon, even with the occasional delays and resurfacing, not one player ever complained.' They just played on because that was a part of it."

Despite the fact a heavy snowfall in overtime made it challenging for the broadcast team last year, Emrick knows it also set the tone for a dramatic finish.

"What made the play more appealing was the weather, but the fact the guys played at a high level and played terrific hockey through the elements was even more incredible," Emrick said. "(Referee) Marc Joannette was the checkered-line referee for the shootout and Don Van Massenhoven was at the goal line. At one point, Marc said, 'I was watching (Sidney) Crosby stick handle (on the final shot of the shootout) and in addition to pushing the puck, he was pushing a whole lot of snow, as well.' And I thought, 'Why not?' That's probably the way it was in (Crosby's hometown of) Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, or the way it was in East Lansing (Mich.), when (Sabres goalie) Ryan Miller played outdoors."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com.

Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81