The St. Louis Blues have had some big games in their history and several different men on the call. One of the greats just called it a career.
The St. Louis Blues have been fortunate enough to have some great broadcasters cover their games. Dan Kelly was one of the best and got an entire city interested in a sport most had never been exposed to.
Ken Wilson brought a certain excitement to the most mundane games just due to his vocal enthusiasm and trademark “Oh, baby”. John Kelly kept the family tradition going when he joined the team and Chris Kerber continues to show his talent is on the same level with any broadcaster in the league.
While not a member of the organization, Doc Emrick, real name Michael, still managed to have a lasting mark on the Blues. Though ESPN and NBC often chose larger markets to cover, Emrick was still behind the mic on some games that many of us will not forget.
One that stands out to Blues fans, if not those nationally, was St. Louis’ Winter Classic. While it was just one of 19 outdoor games that Emrick would broadcast, it had special meaning to Blues fans.
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Most of us, cynical or optimist, never really believed we would ever see a Winter Classic in St. Louis. The league just seemed too geared toward bigger markets and having the same old teams play over and over. The most we hoped for would be to be the opponent in someone else’s stadium.
To actually get the now traditional New Year’s Day game in St. Louis was special. Hearing Doc call that game was as comforting and special as when Keith Jackson would call the annual Rose Bowl game and refer to it as the “Granddaddy of them all”. He just understood what the event meant to Blues fans
As far as special events, it doesn’t get much bigger than the All-Star Game. Of course, it’s just an exhibition and it has lost some interest due to the lack of defense etc. Nevertheless, it is a gathering of the biggest names and best talent in the NHL. Emrick was on the call for that one too.
Of course, none of us will ever forget the Blues winning their first Stanley Cup. It was an emotional experience and one so profound, from a sports perspective, that we will all remember where we were.
Doc Emrick is the voice many of us will associate with that moment. There were lots of Blues fans that turned down the TV volume and listened to Kerber’s fantastic call, especially in those final moments. Nevertheless, in terms of voice with vision, Emrick was there.
From a technical standpoint, what was so great about Emrick’s calls was that he never bowed to the television broadcast narrative. Because there is a visual, the thought is you don’t need to paint a picture because fans are watching.
What I loved about Emrick was I could look away from the screen and still get a vivid understanding of what was going on in the rink. That might be lost with his retirement, but it is something that makes sense due to our shortened attention spans. We’re no longer watching full games without looking at emails or checking text messages or Tweets. To have that spoken visual to go along with everything was so fantastic.
On a personal note, Emrick will definitely be missed by me. He was on my own personal Mount Rushmore of hockey broadcasters and a big reason why I fell in love with the job and have attempted to get into the business myself.
Wilson will always be my personal favorite, but Emrick and Gary Thorne were some of the best on the national scene and the voices that solidified my love for hockey in general. The game will go on without him, but it won’t feel quite the same.
What made Emrick so great, beyond being a wordsmith the likes of which rarely feels natural, was how his own love for the game never seemed to fade. He never got jaded, he never got too used to the moment.
You could tell that he felt privileged to be there and describe the game to those that were not there. Emrick had fun and that came right through the microphone.
If anyone has earned a retirement in sports, it is Emrick. His credentials are unparalleled by just about anyone in the NHL and perhaps all sports broadcasting.
In terms of big moments, Jim Nantz and Al Michaels might be the only ones that have had more or bigger moments. The list is quite short, regardless.
Emrick’s style was not for everyone, just as there is nothing in life that fits everyone’s taste. Still, the hockey broadcast world is a little lesser for not having Doc a part of it. We at Bleedin’ Blue, myself in particular, wish him all the best in whatever he chooses to do in retirement.