Mike Emrick has seen a lot during his career commentating hockey games. He even was in attendance the last time the Pittsburgh Penguins played a Bay Area-based team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when they played the Oakland Seals in the first round in 1969-70.
But the long-time NHL commentator could not recall a spell of prolonged personal greatness that did not lead to greater team success like that of San Jose Sharks forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
"I can't remember anything quite like that," Emrick said on Tuesday. "When we prepare for a season, we may attend a preseason game or a regular-season game in October. These guys take two or three weeks off, then resume training and preparation for a full year, and then you talk about that over 18 years, it's remarkable."
The Stanley Cup Final between the Sharks and Penguins is Emrick's 11th straight Stanley Cup Final as play-by-play commentator for NBC. He called Game 1 of the series, a 3-2 Penguins win, for NBC and will do so again for Game 2 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"They are two teams that are in full flight," Emrick said of Pittsburgh and San Jose. "When you talk about battle of attrition, they're hanging in well. As best we know those guys have their best guys out there at 100 percent."
Thornton and Marleau have been two of the best players in Sharks history and instrumental in their first run to the Cup Final. Thornton has 18 points and Marleau has 13, and both have played in all 19 of San Jose's playoff games.
Thornton, the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins, was the Sharks captain for four seasons from 2010-2014. He has 1,341 points in 1,367 regular season games in 19 NHL seasons with San Jose and Boston, and Emrick recalled Thornton's play in 2005-06, when he overcame injury and a midseason trade from Boston and still won the Art Ross Trophy, leading the League with 125 points.
"He had a broken toe, a groin pull and strep throat, and he went from Boston to San Jose," Emrick said, "and he won the scoring title."
Marleau, who the Sharks selected in the first round (No. 2) of the 1997 NHL Draft, has 481 goals and 1,036 points in 18 seasons in San Jose. Like Thornton, Marleau was San Jose's captain for parts of five seasons between 2003 and 2009, and has overcome adversity with the Sharks.
"Like [Thornton], he's gone from being praised to vilified back to being praised," Emrick said of Marleau.
Emrick cited the Sharks' jitters as part of their slow start during Game 1. He believes both teams will be better in Game 2 and that fans should prepare for long series.
"I think [the Sharks are] going to be far better [Wednesday] night, as are the Penguins," Emrick said. "This has got the look of a long series."
by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / NHL.com Staff Writer