By all accounts this year's Winter Classic was a perfect match up (Original Six teams Detroit and Toronto), played at the perfect venue (a record hockey crowd of 105,491 at The Big House in Ann Arbor) in the perfect conditions (snow gently fell throughout the contest). And thus it was only appropriate that the game was called by what many consider to be a near-perfect announcer, NBC's Mike 'Doc' Emrick. For those unfamiliar with Emrick's style, he brings to mind Gus Johnson if Johnson were a goofy Midwestern dad who really enjoys trivia. For the numerous turns of phrase Emrick uses to describe ordinary plays, Doc has been honored, playfully mocked and even used as the inspiration for a Daft Punk cover.
Emrick, who was named the 2013 Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, has a unique approach that allows him to effortlessly shift from framing the drama of one moment to slipping into a grandfatherly story the next.
In short, he's very good at what he does.
Below I've compiled a collection of my favorite Doc Emrick musings said throughout The Winter Classic. Good luck not reading these in his voice:
"This is a throwback to old times. We have professional athletes wearing an extra layer of clothing, just like they did when they were kids. One difference is their Mom called them into dinner and that ended the game. This one is governed by referees and a clock. You throw in the uncertainty of the weather, a great old rivalry and a little eye black: It's the best!"
"The Original Six began in war-time and carried all the way from 1942-1967. The league goes back to 1917 but the Original Six has a great deal of class and a lot of reminiscing among those of us who have gotten a little grey at the temples."
"Stymied was Cleary. He goes to the front of the net; that's where trouble sometimes comes. He is minus 10 teeth that he had a week ago... He was more concerned about the exposed nerve in the cold in Ann Arbor, moreso than he was about the pain of all the lost teeth and the stitches. They are tough in Newfoundland, are they not?"
"Three quarters of a century ago the eye black was created by a Washington Redskins football player, who then founded the company... Parents watching, in case your youngsters have now decided the want eye black all the time, I checked on the Internet: $14.95 for a tin."
"Water freezes at 32, the last report we had was 12 and the chill factor is now -1. The water bottles aren’t the only things freezing…"
"Temperature is now 14, so that represents something higher... I sure noticed the difference!"
"It's a great location down here -- a little bit of snow, but who cares!"
"Advil, as fast as it is strong. We don't want to make any assumptions but we imagine that Advil would be popular with some of our viewers today, for more than the usual reason."
"Gliding out to the 50! To the 40! Zetterberg to the 30!"
"Carried up by Paul Ranger, and the tiger face guy is able to trickle one into the corner."
"It was Paul Ranger who, in his schoolboy days, had a snowball fight that I guess involved the cafeteria employee or something. Got in a little bit of trouble for that, but who doesn't when they're younger?"
"It was referee Don van Masonhoven who procured the puck that was the winning goal by Sidney Crosby (during the 2008 Winter Classic), and then promptly returned it to the league in the referee's room after. Could have kept it, but he's not that kind of guy. He's a former Ontario Provincial Policeman, you don't do that stuff.
(After finishing promo) "Eddie normally helps me reads these, but he's too busy getting the snow off our monitor so that I could."
"John Faulk, the legendary retiring equipment manager for the Wolverines football team after 40 years, was saying yesterday that unlike most football stadiums -- where it goes east-west with the wind -- it gets down into this hole that was dug 1926. And swirls... and that's why it becomes difficult to kick field goals and today, to figure out which end to defend if you have the choice."
"We have Organ music, just like at The Joe."
Emrick's entire call of the shootout:
"Would you have dreamt of this? 2-2, under five minutes to go, snow before the game and it has never stopped."
"65 minutes; 69 shots fired; four in; two a side; and the shoot out will be coming."
"Sometimes to dramatize is to trivialize. Don't wanna do that. Gee, this was good. Just watch them. I'll be quiet."