BOSTON — When it comes to broadcasting Game 7s, Mike “Doc” Emrick is Justin Williams and then some.
Carolina Hurricanes forward Williams is called “Mr. Game 7” because he has played nine of them and won eight while registering seven goals and 15 points. There’s no nickname for the six-time Emmy-winning Emrick, who will broadcast his 45th NHL Game 7 tonight in Boston when the Bruins take on the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final (8 p.m. ET, NBC).
“When it comes to memories of those games, there are just a flood of them,” Emrick told USA TODAY Sports. “They are all significant and wonderful and I just count myself lucky to have gotten in free to watch them.”
Emrick, 72, doesn’t rank his Game 7s, but he can offer a list of some of his favorites with the level of rich detail that fans expect from the man whose nickname comes from the fact that he holds a Ph.D. in broadcast communications from Bowling Green University.
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In this May 29, 2019, photo, NBC hockey broadcaster Mike Emrick poses for a photo while preparing to call Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins in Boston. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)
“The save on (Detroit’s) Nick Lidstrom with a second and a half to go in 2009,” Emrick said. “That’s as dramatic as it comes. “And (then-Pittsburgh goalie) Marc-Andre Fleury always said he dreamed of being the difference in a Stanley Cup Final. He didn’t say a Game 7, but how big would that be?”
Emrick was also on the call in 1987 when the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals played a four-overtime Game 7 that ended on a Pat LaFontaine goal at 1:58 in the morning. The game lasted 6 hours and 18 minutes.
“I just talked to (former Islanders goalie) Kelly Hrudey about that last week in Boston,” Emrick said. “He had set up his TV to tape the game, but his six-hour VHS format ran out. Of course, what he was missing was the last 20 minutes and we were able to get it for him.”
Hrudey made a record 73 saves in that game.
In the game’s wrap-up, Emrick said from Capital Centre: “There were three games in the National Hockey League tonight and they were all here.”
He remembers the Game 7 of the second-round series between the Red Wings and Blackhawks in 2013 when Brent Seabrook scored the winner in overtime. He adds that Niklas Hjalmarsson had scored earlier but that potential game-winner had been waved off by coincidental minors. Ed Olczyk was Emrick’s partner on that broadcast, as he has been for many of his NBC games.
"Game 7s are normally close, you rarely have a blowout,” Emrick said. “Patrick Roy had a Hall of Fame of career, but there was a Game 7 in Detroit he would like to forget about – the 7-0 game in 2002.
His first Game 7 broadcast featured the Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers. Bill Clement played for the Flames in that 1981 game.
“Then in my Game 7 two, three, four and five, Clement was with working me as my broadcast partner,” Emrick said. “We were with ESPN then.”
The fact Emrick is doing his 45th Game 7 speaks to how rare Game 7s are. Emrick has broadcast more than 3,500 games, and his Game 7 experiences represent just over one percent of his time behind a hockey microphone.
Emrick has been a hockey broadcaster for 46 seasons, starting in 1973 when he was hired as one for the Port Huron (Michigan) franchise in the now-defunct International Hockey League. In addition to his NHL Game 7, he called two more during his minor-league career.
“I never dreamed of doing a Game 7 or a playoff game. My dream never extended that far,” said the always-humble Emrick. “My dream was to do a game sometime that somebody would listen to. Whether it was the Fort Wayne (Komets) against the Troy Bruins on a Wednesday night in October. … My dream was never that lofty.”
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