Epic seems like an appropriate word to describe Doc Emrick's Hall of Fame career, which he officially called on Monday after announcing his retirement.
So it's fitting that Emrick was on the call for the 1987 Easter Epic, the legendary Isles-Capitals Game 7 that went to a fourth overtime before Pat LaFontaine's winner. Most Isles fans are familiar with Jiggs McDonald's call, but the rest of the country was watching Emrick on ESPN.
The Easter Epic was one of over 3,750 professional and Olympic games Emrick called over 47 seasons in the booth. He voiced 45 Game 7s, 22 Stanley Cup Finals, 19 Winter Classic and Stadium Series games and six Winter Olympics. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008 - one of seven Hall of Fames he's been inducted into.
"Things change over 50 years, but much of what I love is unchanged from then to now and into the years ahead," Emrick said in a press release. "I still get chills seeing the Stanley Cup. I especially love when the horn sounds, and one team has won and another team hasn't, all hostility can dissolve into the timeless great display of sportsmanship - the handshake line. I leave you with sincere thanks."
Doc's a hockey lifer, with over 50 years in game. Emrick's NHL career included 21 years with the New Jersey Devils (1983-86, 93-2011), eight with the Philadelphia Flyers (1980-83, 88-93) and 24 years of national broadcasts for ESPN, ABC, FOX Sports and NBC. He's been the voice of the NHL on NBC exclusively since 2011, allowing the whole country to enjoy his unique flair and style.
A Doc broadcast is unmistakably unique, as his verbose vocabulary is his calling card. If you think about a goalie's blocker while eating waffles, you have Doc to thank for that. "Waffleboarded" might be one of his most well-known verbs, but with over 100 to describe shots and passes, (ladled comes to mind for a pass) there are certainly plenty more. Asked if he had any single call that stood out amongst the rest, Doc said there were just too many to count. He had an easier time highlighting the loudest building he'd been in, Nassau Coliseum.
"Inside Nassau coliseum, I never heard a louder ovation," Emrick said on a conference call. "I can't recall a louder ovation then when John Tavares scored an OT winner against Washington in the playoff series the Isles had there."
While Doc's calls made the rounds on Twitter Monday morning, so did stories of his kindness and generosity. When Brendan Burke was beginning his Isles play-by-play career in 2016, Emrick emailed him to say how much he enjoyed his call of a Josh Bailey OT winner. Emrick also sent Bridgeport Sound Tigers radio voice Alan Fuehring an email congratulating him on his wedding last summer after Fuehring had mentioned it in passing. If they say never meet your heroes, Emrick would be an exception.
Isles President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello knows Doc well from their time in New Jersey together, as well their time in the NCAA together in the early 1970s and in the minors. Lamoriello was one of the special guests - along with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NBC Commentators Eddie Olczyk and Al Michaels - to congratulate Emrick during a conference call on Monday.
"I have had the honor and pleasure of going way back with you where we both started," Lamoriello said referencing an interview from 1972. "Every time our paths cross, I couldn't be more proud that I have had the privilege of experiencing part of your career, but more importantly the genuine individual, the type of person you are and the care that you have for individuals."
Doc and Lamoriello's paths crossed recently, as Emrick had the call for Games 4, 5 and 6 of Islanders-Lightning series in the Eastern Conference Final. A big moment like Jordan Eberle's double-OT winner - and Semyon Varlamov's slide - deserved a big-game broadcaster, so it was fitting that Emrick was on hand for one more Isles moment in an epic broadcasting career.
"I thank you on behalf of all the players, and all of fans that we both shared," Lamoriello added. "There's no one better."
Congrats Doc. All the best in retirement.