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Devils players applaud Emrick honor

Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 3:43 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Devils players applaud Emrick honor
Clarkson holds fond memories of Emrick's time as Devils broadcaster. (NHL/Getty Images)
Even the guys in the games appreciate what broadcaster Mike “Doc” Emrick has accomplished in the booth.

Following the announcement that Emrick will be honored at Prudential Center, players said Tuesday that the recognition is well-deserved. The ceremony is set for Friday, Feb. 24, when the Devils host Vancouver.

“I think it’s great for us to do,” said captain Zach Parise. “We were lucky to have him as our home guy for a long time. You have him at the Olympics and the Stanley Cup Finals – he’s the best there is. I think it’s a great thing that we’re doing.”

Emrick was the Devils’ TV play-by-play man for the previous 18 seasons, 21 overall, before committing to NBC/Versus full-time over the summer.

Even with more than 3,000 hockey games under his belt, Emrick remained a student of the game.

“Sometimes he’d come up and ask you things about different scenarios in the game and different situations,” Parise said. “I guess in that profession that’s a great thing to do, to come and try and see what the players are thinking and what [they’re] trying to do out there, then you can get a better grasp on maybe how to call different situations.”

When news of Emrick’s departure from MSG Networks became official in July, David Clarkson reached out to him directly.

“I gave him a call just to congratulate him and tell him good luck on everything,” Clarkson said. “He left me a message that was one of the nicest messages I’ve had from anybody. It was nothing special – it was just more him thanking me for calling him.”

They did finally connect.

“I wished him all the best and we actually did end up touching base later in the summer. He’s just a really good person,” Clarkson said.

This December, Emrick will become the first broadcaster inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Add that to the national Emmy he received in May for best sports play-by-play personality and his 2008 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.

It’s a glittering résumé for one of hockey’s most distinctive broadcast personalities. But Emrick is more than just a voice in the booth.

“Everybody who knows Doc knows he’s one of the nicest people out there,” Clarkson said. “Whether he was coming up to you to say good morning or congratulations. He’s just one of those people that cares, I believe. He has a warm heart. He’s one of those guys who, even if you’re having a bad day, he’d walk by and say good morning to you all the time.”

Clarkson got to hear Emrick on Monday night, when Versus covered Colorado at Toronto.

“It’s just impressive listening to him, how good he is, how good he is at his job, how much he cares,” he said. “That’s why he’s as respected as he is, because of those little things that he does.”

• The Devils were back at practice Tuesday after a day off. Goaltender Keith Kinkaid was recalled from Albany (AHL) while Martin Brodeur was set for further evaluation on the right shoulder injury he suffered Thursday.

“He’s seeing some doctors today,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “We’ll see what the reports are.”

Brodeur traveled with the team to Nashville for Saturday’s game, but did not dress. Johan Hedberg got the start and was backed up by Kinkaid, who was returned to Albany the next day.

But Brodeur could be available in time for Friday’s home meeting with San Jose, when Colin White will make his first New Jersey return since signing with the Sharks.

“I think that’s possible, but we’ll see what the reports are,” DeBoer said. “I mean, obviously, he’d have to skate for a few days, too.”

• DeBoer has shown he won’t hesitate to make minor line tweaks when he thinks something can be improved.

“We’re going to move people around,” he said. “I liked the third period in Nashville. I thought both lines created more than they had in the first two periods when we made the switch. We’ll stick with that, but how long that lasts, it depends. I think this is going to be a constant theme of moving people around.”

Tuesday’s lines:

Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Ilya Kovalchuk - Jacob Josefson - Nick Palmieri
Mattias Tedenby - Petr Sykora - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton/Rod Pelley - Brad Mills - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
Mark Fraser

Johan Hedberg, Keith Kinkaid