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Hall of Fame Broadcaster Emrick to Call 3,000th NHL Game

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
When Penguins fans tune in to the Versus broadcast Monday night between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, they will be watching a historic event. Or rather, they’ll be listening to a historic event.

Calling the action will be broadcaster Mike Emrick, whom has called play-by-play for the Penguins’ Atlantic Division rival New Jersey Devils since 1993. The significance is that the contest will be Emrick’s 3,000th NHL game worked in a Hall of Fame career.

“It’s really an honor,” said Emrick, who also works for Versus’ and NBC’s national broadcasts. “It makes you feel old and even a little bit lucky because I had cancer 19 years ago. That stands out in my mind.”

Emrick then added with a smile:

“My wife is here. We have three veterinarians, so one of them will be here. The guy who does our taxes is going to be here, a couple members of our family. We’ll have a roomful of people, a lot of whom don’t know one another, but we know all of them. So it will be a good time.”

Despite working with the enemy, Emrick has a long history with the Penguins. While teaching speech and broadcasting at Geneva College in Beaver Falls from 1969-71, Emrick got his first taste of the NHL by covering the Penguins for the Beaver County Times.

In fact, Emrick one of his most memorable games was his 2,000th broadcast, a game between the Devils and Penguins in the Steel City.

“I’ll never forget my 2,000th game because my dad was there and we had a suite at Mellon Arena,” Emrick said. “It happened to be on the road. That’s the way it all worked out. That was quite a memory.”

Emrick has called the last two Stanley Cup Finals featuring the Penguins and Red Wings. So it seems only fitting that for his 3,000th edition, Emrick will be calling the re-re-rematch.

“This one certainly will be (memorable),” he said. “How often do two Stanley Cup Finalists come together, especially with it being in the East and West? They don’t play that often anymore. This will be a pretty exciting night.”

Emrick’s resume is already impressive. He has called games in 11 Stanley Cup Finals, eight NHL All-Star Games, the 1996 and 2004 World Cup of Hockey, three NHL Winter Classics and three Olympic Games. Not to mention receiving the 2008 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions to hockey broadcasting.

But Emrick’s most endearing quality may be his passion and eternal optimism when it comes to Pittsburgh Pirates baseball. Emrick is a long-time die-hard Pirates fan, and he has hope for the team’s upcoming season.

“We’re hoping for 80 losses but no more because that would mean that they’re over .500,” he said. “I was talking to Mark Eaton this morning and he said he grew up a Pirates fan. He grew up at just the right time because (Barry) Bonds and (Bobby) Bonilla were still there. That was the early 90s and the bad teams were just about to come. If they lose only 80 games, I’ll be very happy.”

Other memorable games Emrick has called are:
> Mario Lemieux’s three-goal, including the overtime winner, and six-point night at the 1988 All-Star Game
> Game 4 of the 1988 Stanley Cup Final when a power outage at Boston Garden forced the Bruins and Oilers to finish the game two nights later in Edmonton
> Lemieux’s record-tying five goals and three assists in a 10-7 victory over Philadelphia in the 1989 Game 5 Patrick Division semifinals; and Ken Wregget’s 40 saves in Game 7 of that series.
> Mark Messiers’s hat trick after guaranteeing victory in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1994
> The Devils first Stanley Cup championship in 1994
> Team USA’s third-period rally to beat Canada 5-2 in the World Cup of Hockey in 1996
> Wayne Gretzky’s final NHL game against the Penguins in 1999
> The original Winter Classic between Buffalo and Pittsburgh on Jan. 1, 2008
> Martin Brodeur’s breaking of the all-time wins and shutout records
> Canada’s overtime gold-medal winning game against Team USA in Vancouver

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