Ask 100 males, aged 15-34, who their favorite sports announcer is, and a handful of names will dominate the discussion (if Jon Gruden is one of them, leave the opium den). Gus Johnson is likely to top the list, and who could argue? Listening to Gus give play-by-play is a unique sports experience. If his calls don’t give you goose bumps or make you piss your pants laughing, you might not have a pulse.  He is among the best of the best.

So is Mike Emrick.

“Who??” you may ask…

Mike “Doc” Emrick. The best announcer in sports.

Unfortunately, the majority of American fans have probably never heard a word out of his mouth. He is, after all, a hockey announcer. You know? Hockey? The one on the ice? With the stick? And the Russians?

Sadly hockey is the least popular of the “Big 4” sports in America, but much like European soccer in the U.S., its limited following shows cult-like enthusiasm and devotion. Its devotees know Doc Emrick and realize that he’s as good as they come.

In many ways, Emrick is just like GuJo; enthusiastic, highly knowledgeable, and loud when he needs to be. But he’s also silent when he needs to be, letting listeners to soak in the big moment through the TV rather than blathering on to fill dead air. He has the ability to flawlessly explain the nuances of the game to the hockey novice while still keeping the attention of the die-hard fan – no easy feat, and an essential trait, as his network (NBC) desperately tries to grow its hockey audience. But most importantly, he’s got the voice. That’s the crux of it all, right? With a hint of Kermit the Frog, Emrick’s trademark phrases are music to the ears of hockey fans across North America. Some of the best – “out of a net-mouth scramble”, “he waffle-boards it to the side”, “he swaggers away from that hit”, and my favorite, “HE HIT THE POST!!” (14 second mark). Check out any Emrick montage on YouTube and you’ll be hooked for hours.

Even better, Emrick comes off so damn modest. You get the feeling while listening that he truly loves his job, but won’t go out of the way to tell you. He never brags, boasts, or inserts his own stories into the conversation unless they make total sense. Gruden could learn a lesson or twelve.

It’s hard to describe a man’s voice via words on a screen, so my advice is to check him out during a live telecast. You won’t regret it.

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