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NBC's Dan Patrick talks Final, Pronger snark, more

by Bob Condor
CHICAGO -- NBC's Dan Patrick is hosting the remaining games of this tight 2010 Stanley Cup Final, with Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury joining him on set for Sunday night's Game 5 on NBC at 8 p.m. ET.

The uber-popular sportscaster watched the Blackhawks' morning skate and agreed to switch roles, letting ask the questions. But he started out with a short monologue on NBC colleague and Final play-by-play announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick and finished by deftly handling, naturally, an intruder to the conversation.

DP: "Doc has an ability to be part of the game, but not overshadow the game. You have to wonder what an EKG of his voice during a game would look like. He has such a capacity for the excitement of a moment but an equal ability to be calm when the game calls for it. It's like an escalator." Your thoughts about being part of the Final? It is your first time hosting the Cup telecast.

DP: "I have handed out the Super Bowl trophy. I have been in this building before for championships, but there were different kinds of nets. The United Center has a great crowd and great atmosphere.

"My mother-in-law is a diehard (New Jersey) Devils fans. So for me to be here at the Stanley Cup Final with Doc Emrick (the regular-season play-by-play man for the Devils), well, that is bigger than any Super Bowl. Hands-down better to her. So I am scoring a lot of points at home. First NHL game you saw in person?

DP: "The Ken Morrow overtime goal (which allowed his New York Islanders team to eliminate the rival New York Rangers during the 1984 playoffs). My producer told me after the game, 'Not all hockey games are that good.'

"My first Final was the (1985) series between the Flyers and Edmonton, with Gretzky, Coffey, Messier, Fuhr and Kurri. That Oilers team was so good, Esa Tikkanen, who was called up for the playoffs, didn't crack the lineup until the Final." Any factor in hockey that sticks out compared to other major sports?

DP: "The ability to lead in this sport is different. It demands true leaders, the Messiers, bringing out a quality of leadership you don't see across all sports. Hockey players lead by example and lift their teams (more than other sports). Were you a hockey fan as a child?

DP: "Definitely. My teams were the Dayton Gems and later, the Cincinnati Stingers. I might have seen [former ESPN colleague Barry] Melrose play -- not that I would have remembered it." There seems to be a national buzz about this Final. Agree?

DP: "Definitely. First of all, it's Philly and Chicago, two big cities with close proximity. Both teams have proud traditions. There are good guys and villains.

"Our job is to re-invest the audience into the people and storylines. For example, we will talk about Pronger as not only a Hall-of-Fame defenseman, but an agitator. ... I covered Pronger when he was just a kid with St. Louis. He was funny, then, too. Now he is older and more snarky."

Enter Intruder Mike Milbury: "Hey, Bob, are you really talking hockey with Dan? Is that possible?"

Milbury, wearing a yellow short-sleeve shirt, tails out, walked away to laughter, including from Patrick.

Final word from DP (to his NBC producers): "Tell Milbury when he's done with that shirt, give it back to Jerry Mathers as the 'Beaver.'"

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