NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With…" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and latest news.
The latest edition features "NHL on NBC" broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emrick. His book, "Off Mike: How a Kid from Basketball-Crazy Indiana Became America's NHL Voice," which he wrote with former USA Today national hockey writer Kevin Allen and includes a foreword by "NHL on NBC" analyst Eddie Olczyk, comes out in October.
Mike "Doc" Emrick doesn't know when he'll call his next NHL game, but he's getting prepared for it.
"I've got plenty of cardboard [paper] here to draw up my rosters," the broadcaster said Monday. "I'm hearing various things about whether I need to put 24 boxes on my cardboard, or whether I need to put 30 and an unlimited number of goalies, so I guess I have to make the squares pretty small."
Emrick has not worked a game since March 11, when the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the San Jose Sharks 6-2 at United Center. The NHL paused its season due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus the next day. Since then he's been busy creating and narrating videos for "NHL on NBC."
"So far I've done 10," Emrick said. "I just send it to them for editing and they decide whether it works in with some of their hockey telecasts that they've been rerunning, and others are short enough that they can go as Tweets. One was on Memorial Day, and that wound up being included in one of the telecasts. As a matter of fact, I think it was included in the T.J. Oshie shootout telecast, the United States vs. Russia (at the 2014 Sochi Olympics). And then Mother's Day was another one and that was coordinated with the [rebroadcast of the] gold-medal victory by Team USA's women in South Korea (2018 PyeongChang Olympics)."
Emrick has also been taking daily hourlong walks with his wife, Joyce, and looking over the final draft of his upcoming book.
Here are Five Questions with… Mike "Doc" Emrick:
You mentioned you're getting your cardboard roster sheets ready. Have you started doing any play-by-play off games on TV to prepare for your broadcasts?
"I haven't done that yet. As we get closer, I probably will because you need to do some vocal exercises, do a little warmup for yourself, too. The only way to do that would be to put games into your DVD player or watch any of the old games on television. If you watch your own games, you have to do with sound down. Because you end up critiquing yourself if you watch with the sound up. You get preoccupied with what you said. But yeah, as it gets closer, you have to start practicing again because I don't know if I'll do a game every day, or whether I'll do a game every other day, which is the normal routine you have. So, a lot of that will enter into kind of getting yourself warmed up again."
When play does resume, do you have a wish list of Stanley Cup Qualifiers you'd like to broadcast?
"It'd be fun to do any of those play-in games. But either watching or broadcasting Chicago-Edmonton would be fun for me because [Patrick] Kane has never faced the Oilers, especially with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, in a [qualifying] series before. And when you consider the way (Oilers goalie) Mike Smith played for Calgary last year against Colorado, and kind of held them in there for a long time, he has some playoff credentials that would benefit Edmonton. And McDavid and Draisaitl being 2-1 in [NHL] scoring and just to have Kane and [Corey] Crawford and all of those other elements that would enter into it. Florida-Islanders, just from the brain trust behind the bench would be kind of fun too, with [Barry] Trotz and Joel Quenneville. I mean, there are just a lot of matchups that would just sing."
One of the videos you did that was featured on the 'NHL on NBC' Twitter account was your play-by-play of a windshield wiper change in March. How did that come about?
"I went in for an oil change, and I guess it just hit me spur of the moment. This guy was a big [Detroit] Red Wings fan, and we got to talking about hockey. He thought he'd was going to have to close the garage that day, because it was the day the governor of Michigan (Gretchen Whitmer) was probably going to close some of the state down. So I decided, boy, is this a lucky day for me to be in here getting this oil change done. And one of the wipers had to be changed, so I said, 'You might as well change both because I may not get back in here to get any service done on my car for a while.' Anyway, he was a good sport about it, and he wound up becoming a rather famous individual. That tweet wound up getting a quarter of a million responses, of all things."
You did another video in mid-April called 'Doc's Dream.' What kind of response did you get from that?
"It was quite heartening, and it went a lot of places that I never thought it would. A lot of that came from the NBC hierarchy, who forwarded it to people they knew. One of the hierarchy forwarded it to a friend of his named Steven Spielberg, who had a positive remark it, too. It's one of the more heartening things that would happen to you in your life, is to have something you did viewed of someone of that ilk. I mean, my goodness. I didn't contact [Spielberg] myself. If I had, I would have told him how much a certain amount of cello music and underwater activity meant to me in the 1970s (in the movie "Jaws"). But it was wonderful that something like that drew a reaction from somebody I admired.
"The [message] was just something that I prepared for an NBC meeting that was an online meeting of 250-300 people; it was audio only. But the real genius was done by five people, who searched out all the video, and within four or five days had put all the video to that. I mean, unbelievably searched out such things as grocery store cashiers and found video of a cashier using sanitizer to wipe down one of the credit card machines. How do they find all that stuff? It was intricate, all of the various things they found, when it was only an audio creation to finish off a meeting that was NBC Sports personnel only."
Your book, which Kevin Allen helped you write, comes out in October. How has that collaboration been?
"I tried to start this about eight years ago, but I had just gotten so frustrated with it. During the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, Kevin Allen had the misfortune of walking out of one of the morning press conferences. I caught him at a weak moment, and said, 'I know you've done 14-15 books with [Jeremy] Roenick and all these other people. I've had terrible organizational skills of trying to get this done. Would you consider doing one with me?' He thought about it for a moment and said, 'Yeah.' So, we started about a year and a half ago, sitting down and doing things, and he had a whole bunch of things that I'd written that just needed organization.
"It's just an overall book of experiences about hockey, minor leagues and networks and all 40 years in the NHL. It's all pulled together with some life experiences and some stories about dogs, some about doing some brief NFL work and Bob Costas and I doing a baseball game in Pittsburgh. It's just oddball things. Hopefully it'll be entertaining.
"And anyone who buys a book, 100 percent of what I get goes to the care of creatures. Joyce and I have taken care of ourselves well enough, we don't need the cash. It will go to some causes, veterinary bills that need to be paid for people who have sick animals, so it goes into a fund that takes care of things like that. If they like animals and they buy a book, they know it's going to take care of some creatures, so they can feel good about how they spend their money."