Thank You Doc: Legendary Broadcaster Announces Retirement

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

It wasn’t long ago that we watched as the 2019-20 NHL season came to a close with the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup...on a Monday night in September. On the call that night for Game 6 and the final game of the season was Mike “Doc” Emrick, as we had always come to expect, proclaiming the victors of the greatest trophy in all of sports. 

As the game and season finally ended and the championship had been won, a video montage ran, narrated by Doc, that was just another reminder of why we love this game and appreciate it. Little did we know that this was the beginning of Doc’s farewell address to the audience that has come to know and love him. 

Emrick announced his retirement from broadcasting after 47 years, many of them spent on national platforms like ESPN, ABC and NBC.

Doc’s beginnings came in Port Huron with the Flags in the International Hockey League (IHL) in 1973, but four years later, he was calling AHL games for the Maine Mariners, then the Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliate. After five seasons, the New Jersey Devils came calling. 

Doc primarily called Devils games from 1982 to 1986, but filled in on occasion as a spot announcer for Flyers home games. In 1986, he joined the Flyers staff as a studio host, then took over play-by-play duties in 1988. He also started calling games nationally in 1986. 

For the next five seasons, Doc was one of the voices of the Flyers, then made his return to the Devils in 1993, a role he held for 18 seasons through 2011, when he solely focused on national work for NBC. 

In total, Doc called an excess of 3,750 hockey games, among them 22 Stanley Cup Finals, 45 Game 7s, six Olympics, 14 All-Star Games and 19 outdoor games between the Winter Classic and Stadium Series. 

In many sports, broadcasters become beloved because they find a way to connect with their audience, to make every game seem to matter that much more. It didn’t matter if Doc was calling a game between two marquee teams in the playoffs or calling a mid-January affair between two of the NHL’s bottom-feeders. He had a way to hook you into the game and make it feel like Game 7. 

Often imitated, never duplicated, Doc spoke like an auctioneer, rattled off a plethora of verbs to describe player and puck movement and raised his voice at all the appropriate moments to heighten the suspense. When Doc was on the call, it wasn’t just a game. It was a high-action drama unfolding in front of your eyes. 

Emrick earned the nickname “Doc” because of his PhD in communications, but he was as much a friend and student of the game as anyone. He was on a pedestal for so many of us involved in the game, but his own status was secondary to those around him. He always wanted to shift the conversation to you instead of be showered in praise and admiration. He marveled at the fact that a career could be made watching this game and getting free admission to do it. After six seasons of doing this myself, believe me, I know where he’s coming from. 

He marveled at the ability of the players he watched. He knew he wasn’t cut out to play the game and appreciated the ones who could. It is a game so physically demanding, so poetic and yet brutal simultaneously, and that made it all the more magnificent. 

One of the things Mike and Brodes have discussed on the 97.3 ESPN airwaves, particularly during the Flyers most recent playoff run, was just how difficult hockey conversation on sports talk radio can be to generate. There are certainly several schools of thought on this.

It is a difficult game to comprehend with its speed. There is little time to second guess a decision or a play. Blink, and you may miss what even caused the play to occur. The reason it is so hard to second guess is because many who watch it know that if they were thrust into the same situation, placed in a spot where they had to make a decision or a play, they wouldn’t even know where to begin. The average sports fan who partakes in touch football games or beer league softball sees a baseball play in the field or a play in football and thinks they could draw up something better or perhaps make the play themselves. Not in hockey. Not in a sport that is so artistic, creative, and executed on a sheet of ice wearing two boots with 3/16-inch blades.

Doc was able to capture that magic and wizardry that takes place on the ice. He perfectly captured the mass chaos that occurred in real time, rarely faltering as he tried to describe in a matter of two seconds what happened as five bodies piled up near the crease in a net mouth scramble. In the times when the game wasn’t so frenetic, Doc could eloquently dictate his love of the game through poetry and soliloquy. It just seemed he always knew what to say to capture the audience, to say exactly what each hockey guy and girl was feeling. 

I always looked forward to his broadcasts for that reason. I knew I was in for a treat. I knew I was going to be listening to someone who had as much, and probably more, appreciation for the game as I do. I knew that above all else, I would come away entertained, informed, enthused, and perhaps with my heart beating out of my chest, whether I was rooting for a team or not. 

Listening to a hockey broadcast will never be the same again without Doc. We all know that. But we can always appreciate the moments he called and the memories he created. We can certainly hope that he set the bar high for all future broadcasters of this great sport. We can certainly walk away from this season and the many seasons where Doc was on the call and think about how much better it made the game and how much more we appreciated it. Some of those memories live on via YouTube, first some of his best Flyers calls, then some of his best calls on a national stage.

So thank you, Doc. Thank you for inspiring all hockey fans to love the game like you have and to show it the respect and admiration you did every time you were on the call. There will never be another like you.

All the best to the great Doc Emrick in retirement.

To the Man Who Inspired the World of Hockey

Doc and I

“It’s a noble thing to aspire to, we don’t cure people of dyer ills and illnesses, in our line of work, but I think we do something else that’s heartening for not only people who listen but also for us. We take their minds off of their troubles in the world for two and a half to three hours and if their fans, they focus an awful lot of their enjoyment in life on following their team and their athletes and so we’re not the players, we’re not that important, it’s between the fans and the players. And there is responsibility there that enables us to treat it like a profession rather than like a hobby.” – Mike “Doc” Emrick

Mike Emrick has been broadcasting hockey for nearly 50 years. His incredible, and astonishing career has sadly come to an end, but more importantly how did a man from La Fontaine, Indiana mostly known for Basketball, get to broadcast Hockey for that long? Here is his how he became a broadcaster in the NHL.

The man known by everybody as “Doc” saw his first hockey game as a junior high school student at Fort Wayne, Indiana on Dec. 10, 1960 and it took 13 years before he actually was a hockey broadcaster. It took him a while as he sent out tape after tape. He was in graduate school attending Miami University and finished with a Master’s Degree, but didn’t have a job. He took a teaching job at a small college called Geneva. After his first year, he realized he had some spare time in addition to teach classes so he went to the editor of the Beaver County Times and volunteered to cover the 1970-71 Pittsburgh Penguins, who were only 35 miles away, in exchange for a free media pass. That got him inside the locker room to work and learn more about how the game of hockey was broadcast.

Two years later, Emrick sent out more tapes of himself broadcasting while sitting in the corner of an arena, despite never having a chance to broadcast anybody. He thought to himself that it wouldn’t work out so well, therefore he figured he would get an advanced degree that would enable him to teach at a college for the rest of his life. Both Bowling Green, and Michigan offered him assistantships where he could teach classes, and study for the doctorate. The deciding factor was that Bowling Green had a program where they did the home hockey games on radio, and a staff member of the station did the 1st and 3rd periods, while a student announced the 2nd period. The previous student who broadcasted the 2nd periods had graduated so they gave Doc the chance to broadcast every 2nd period of the hockey games in addition to teaching the two classes, and advance study of this degree.

Finally, in 1973, Emrick was finishing his course work, and sent out tapes one more time; this time radio stations in Port, Michigan called and said “why don’t we come up and talk about it for $160 a week?” After that, he was a professional.

Seven years later, he would call his first career NHL game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Penguins. It was on the home paid cable system called Prism, which fans paid a monthly fee for to get the Philadelphia Phillies, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Flyers home games. He was the home announcer as well as the TV producer for half of the road games. Hall-of-Fame announcer Gene Hart was the Flyers announcer on radio when they had home cable games and on television when the team traveled.

Emrick spent his time in Philadelphia from 1980-1983, and 1988-1993, he was also known for his incredible work with the New Jersey Devils from 1983-1986, and 1993-2011 before sticking with NBC Sports for the remainder of his career. According to NBC Sports, Emrick had called almost 4,000 professional and Olympic hockey games, including a remarkable 22 Stanley Cup Finals.

Not only is Doc an eight time Emmy award winner, he is the only broadcaster to be in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, along with another amazing feat of being the only broadcaster to be in both the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 74-year-old legend is also in seven hall of fames, something that is as rare as it gets.

All in all, to the man who inspired the world of hockey, you have been the perfect role model for an aspiring broadcaster; young or old, an incredible person, and even better friend. I have been so grateful for the opportunities in life to not only meet you, but interview you, and talk hockey. Thank you for everything you’ve done for not only myself, but for the sport of hockey, and the world of broadcasting. The sports world will NEVER be the same without your famous calls. I will sorely miss your “OFF THE POST WITH THE SHOT!” And many more. I still remember to this day my first interview with you in 2014 while I was a freshman in college and I had asked you the question “How much longer are you looking to do play by play for NBC, hockey and the NHL in general and what do you think you’ll be doing afterwards?"

You had thought about it for a second and gave me an answer only the great Doc Emrick would give:

"I don’t know… I don’t think I’m one of those guys who will want to go into work if I’m not happy with what I’m doing. I don’t know when that day is going to come. Normally with people in a performance business like this and you can compare it to athletes as well; either they aren’t satisfied with their work, their boss isn’t satisfied with their work, or both and that time the invitation is usually given to find something else. But you always like to think that you can call that day yourself. I’m still satisfied and my bosses are with the work that I’m doing, but if that day comes because they have been very fair with me in terms of my work load as well as paying me, you know barring anything that collapses in the economic world, Joyce and I will be fine. It’s just that she encourages me to work for as long as I enjoy it and I still do. And as long as my bosses enjoy what they’re hearing, then I’m just going to keep on."

Enjoy retirement, and keep on Doc...

Flyers C Nolan Patrick Accepts Qualifying Offer

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

As the offseason progresses, the Flyers have mainly checked off all the tasks on their to-do list. They re-signed two unrestricted free agents before the signing period opened last Friday and they had signed three of their five restricted free agents to new contracts well in advance. Only two remained entering the weekend, but you can take another off the list.

Flyers forward Nolan Patrick has accepted the team’s qualifying offer, returning on a one-year, $874,125 deal. That leaves only Phil Myers as the lone remaining RFA to sign.

Continue reading "Flyers C Nolan Patrick Accepts Qualifying Offer" »

Flyers Sign D Erik Gustafsson to 1-Year Deal

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers offseason plans were altered when Matt Niskanen announced his retirement. That put the Flyers in the market to add a defenseman, and three days into free agency, the Flyers did just that.

The Flyers announced on Monday that they have signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a one-year deal worth $3 million.

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YWT: The Philadelphia Flyers Podcast - YWT #95 - The Best Name In The Draft


The YWT Podcast is back and the main events of the offseason have started. The NHL Draft was this week and free agency opened. The Flyers selected five new prospects, but remained silent in free agency.

The guys talk about the surprising news of Matt Niskanen's retirement and the Flyers response by re-signing Justin Braun. They also discuss how it affects the Flyers offseason plans. Additionally, they look at some of the roster moves around the league and more.

Join Kyle Collington and Kevin Durso as they break down the busy week that makes up the bulk of the offseason in this week's show.

You can listen to this episode of the podcast below and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Amazon Podcasts and Podbean

You can also watch the episode and subscribe to watch all episodes of the YWT Podcast on YouTube.

As always, we want you to follow the podcast on Twitter @YWTpodcast, follow Kevin Durso on Twitter @Kevin_Durso, and follow producer Mike Giletto Jr. on Twitter @Mike_Giletto.

As Free Agency Opens, Flyers Waiting for Right Opportunity


(Photo: Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The free agency period opened on Friday at noon, and the typical free-agency frenzy wasn’t the mad show that it was in previous years.

Many players are electing patience, hearing out offers. There was no tampering period as there usually is in free agency, so every team was able to make their pitch against one another at the same time.

On Day 1, the Flyers elected patience as well. While they were said to be in contact and interested in a couple of free-agent defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk and T.J. Brodie, both players chose to sign elsewhere. Shattenkirk signed a three-year deal with an AAV of $3.9 million with the Anaheim Ducks and Brodie signed a four-year deal with an AAV of $5 million with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both deals were likely too rich for the Flyers in both term and cap hit.

Continue reading "As Free Agency Opens, Flyers Waiting for Right Opportunity" »

2020 NHL Free Agency: Targets for the Flyers

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

A week ago, the Flyers seemed adamant that they weren’t going to be free agent players. They were tight on cap and had limited roster spots to fill and were on their way to running back a similar roster to this season.

When Matt Niskanen announced his retirement on Monday, that changed a lot of the Flyers plans. They suddenly had $5.75 million in cap space available – though they quickly spent $1.8 million of that to bring back Justin Braun

As free agency begins on Friday at noon, the Flyers have $8.6 million in cap space available, but also still have qualifying offers out and need to sign defenseman Phil Myers and forward Nolan Patrick to new deals. That doesn’t leave the Flyers with much room for signing free agents, but they may explore some low-risk, high-reward deals or choose to allocate most of the remaining cap to as close a replacement for Niskanen as they can find.

With that in mind, here are a few names on the market that are sure to have intrigue.

Continue reading "2020 NHL Free Agency: Targets for the Flyers" »

New Flyers Prospects Express Excitement to Join Organization

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

For 216 prospects with hopes of one day playing in the NHL, Tuesday and Wednesday were still life-changing days, even if the scene wasn’t Bell Centre in Montreal and the 31 NHL teams were all gathered on the floor to make their selections.

It was certainly a historic and memorable draft, even in a virtual setting. For five of those 216 that heard their name called, the Flyers were the team on the other end of the announcement. Each of them expressed what it means to be selected by the Flyers organization and described both their emotions and their excitement for what lies ahead.

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Flyers Take Advantage of Falling Prospects, Shift Focus to Free Agency


(Photo: Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

When we look back on moments in sports history, there will never be another season, or offseason, quite like 2020 in the NHL. After making a 24-team return to play and completing the 2019-20 season in just under two months time, the NHL packed all of the major offseason events into one week with the NHL Draft taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and setting the stage for the open of free agency on Friday.

On Tuesday night, the Flyers selected winger Tyson Foerster with the 23rd overall pick and GM Chuck Fletcher not only got the best player available on the team’s draft board at the time, but lined up Wednesday’s potential.

“We had a group of four or five players and we felt that one, two or three of them would be there when we picked. It kind of followed our list pretty well. There weren’t a lot of surprises today. I think we anticipated a lot of names that were called. Tyson was a player that we thought we had a chance of being available to us when we picked and he was,” Fletcher said. “Certainly we’re very, very happy with that. It’s a good draft. There’s a lot of good players. 

“There will still be, based on what our list looks like right now, there’s at least 15 players right now I think we would be thrilled to select at 54. Basically we should have a really good chance at falling into one of those players. Regardless of the position, we’ll be very happy to call the name.”

On Day 2 of the draft, turns out the Flyers were able to call two of their names, second-round pick Emil Andrae at 54th overall and center Zayde Wisdom at 94th overall.

Continue reading "Flyers Take Advantage of Falling Prospects, Shift Focus to Free Agency" »

Flyers Draft Pick Scouting Report: Day 2 Picks

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers added four new prospects to their pipeline on Wednesday afternoon, choosing to trade up in the draft twice to acquire talent they felt had fallen to them.

The day began with the Flyers keeping their second-round pick to select defenseman Emil Andrae with the 54th overall pick. The team traded up to the first pick of the fourth round at 94th overall to select center Zayde Wisdom. The team made another trade to move back into the fifth round with the 135th overall pick and selected winger Elliot Desnoyers. Finally, the team made their final pick of Day 2 in the sixth round with the 178th overall pick, selecting winger Connor McClennon.

Now that you know the names, get to know the four newest Flyers prospects with these scouting reports. 

D Emil Andrae (2nd Round, 54th overall)

Emil Andrae is an undersized, offensive-minded defenseman who stands just 5’9” and 181 pounds, but he’s an entertaining player. He has good speed but needs to improve on his skating by adding muscle to his lower body to create more power in his strides.

He’s aggressive with the puck and will certainly jump into the play. Despite his size, he isn’t afraid to get involved in physical battles, but his size can be a problem in winning those battles and gaining possession. He’s a good communicator and helps his teammates a lot with his leadership and he certainly brings a poise to his game. Torey Krug is a good comparable for his style.

He’s adjusted well to the Swedish Elite league and has a lot of upside, just needs to continue to grow and improve on his skill set.

"With high-end offensive instincts and poise with the puck, Andrae is a defenseman who doesn't meet the prototypical size standards by any means.” - Chris Peters, ESPN

"He’s strong on his feet, which he leverages effectively along the wall. He’s physical for his size. And he’s calculated enough with the puck to recognize when he needs to hang onto it and when he just needs to advance the play.” - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

"I like his offensive dynamic. He’s a good skater. Heads-up player that’s a really crafty puck handler. Has vision. At times, you can see him slow down the game in transition and going forward. Can also be dynamic off the offensive blue line and find offense. I think that’s the strength in his game. He’s little undersized, but he’s pretty aware so he doesn’t get himself in trouble." – Flyers scout Mark Greig

C Zayde Wisdom (4th Round, 94th overall)

Without question, the best story in the draft. He’s overcome a lot in his life as a grassroots hockey product and used that determination to learn and grow at the game. A year ago, he was an OHL rookie with Kingston and still adjusting to the game, posting low production of three goals and 10 points in 60 games. In his draft year, he made a 49-point jump, reaching 29 goals and 59 points in 62 games.

His work ethic and heart is off the charts. You won’t ever question his desire to succeed. In that sense, he’s got a lot of Wayne Simmonds in him – and ironically it was Simmonds who presented Wisdom with the E.J. McGuire Award for Excellence and has stayed in touch with the prospect since. But he dedicated himself to improving and being the best player he could be, becoming one of the OHL’s most improved last season and drastically raising his draft stock.

His skating is above average and his energy is tough to match. He’s a good passer and has a good shot that allows him to be productive and brings hockey smarts to the game by reading plays well. He can be a complete player and just needs to continue to hone his skills to reach the next level.

“There’s some real upside in Wisdom, who brings an untapped yet rare skill set to the table.” - Hockey Prospect Scout, Brad Allen

“He has already improved so much as a player, who is to say that his game, especially offensively, could not find yet another gear? This is a player you want in your organization as he would go through a wall to help secure a W.” - Brock Otten, McKeen’s

"We really like him from a complimentary standpoint. He’s a guy that can make plays. He thinks on the ice well. His puck game is a positive. We like that he provides a physical element. He’s strong. We think he’s competitive and he has a well-rounded game." – Flyers scout Rick Pracey

LW Elliot Desnoyers (5th Round, 135th overall)

Playing with Moncton in the QMJHL, he was part of arguably the best junior team in hockey at the time junior hockey stopped back in March and he was playing a lesser role on their third line. So don’t let the numbers fool you, while he had just 11 goals and 35 points in 61 games, he knew his role and played it well.

He brings a combination of high-end skating and hockey sense that makes him a versatile player and is a well-positioned player without the puck and is a high-energy player that likes to pursue the puck and does a lot of the dirty work, hard on the backcheck, blocking shots, getting in passing lanes and can provide good support as a forward.

Now with Halifax, he’s going to be in a leadership role and have a chance to increase his production. As a fifth-round pick, there could be a lot of upside for Elliot Desnoyers and his simple approach to the game could lead to a breakout season.

“He's so much better off of the puck than he is on it. If you want a player who will selflessly run head-first through a brick wall if that's what's necessary for his linemates to succeed, then look no further than Desnoyers. He plays an honest brand of hockey in the defensive zone and never flees a moment sooner than his team has secured the puck.” - EliteProspects Draft Guide

“He’s a good skater who always had his feet moving and he caused the opposing team to create a few turnovers by applying pressure or by stick checking correctly.” - Hockey Prospect Black Book

“He’s a guy that our guys in the Quebec league were high on. He played on a very good Moncton team last year. Didn’t have a huge role, but got better and better throughout the year. This year, he’s moved to Halifax and has a big role on the team. He’s had a real good start. He’s a real hardworking, energy two-way center and wing. He’s playing center right now. He’s a real smart player, real detailed player. A player all coaches like. Our guys just think he’s going to get better and better there so we stepped up on him.”– Flyers Assistant GM Brent Flahr

RW Connor McClellon (6th Round, 178th overall)

Connor McClennon was having an excellent production year when a collarbone injury ultimately shut down his season. To that point, he had 21 goals and 49 points in 42 games. 

He’s a shooter and possesses a strong shot at that, but speed is really the component to his game that matters most. He’s got quick acceleration and needs to work on his abilities to make plays with the puck at the speed he wants to go, and he’s another undersized player. He models his game after a lot of the smaller-type forwards in the NHL, among them Johnny Gaudreau and Alex DeBrincat

If he can sure up his strength and improve his play without the puck and not trying to force plays too much when he has it, he’s got the speed and skill combination to be successful down the road, especially as he advances to a leadership role with Winnipeg in the WHL.

The biggest thing holding McClennon back is that he isn’t that big. He has excellent puck skills and the ability to manipulate his shooting angle and the rush. If McClennon was 6’0″, he would likely be much higher on draft boards and teams wouldn’t be as hesitant to take a risk in the early rounds of the draft. - Tony Ferrari, DobberProspects

“Connor is small but competes hard. He has good skating ability. He has a good shot and gets it off quickly. Makes a lot of good plays with the puck. Good level of physicality for a smaller forward. Drew a power play with his compete level on a defensive zone draw. He drew another one when he took a high stick to the face. Plays in all game situations for Winnipeg. Forces a massive amount of turnovers with his compete.” - Hockey Prospect Black Book

"One of the top picks in the Western League. Has been a prolific scorer in his age group. His competitiveness is very strong, very good motor. Very good shot and loves to shoot. Players his size need that. He has to get stronger, obviously, and he is working on that. We had a bit of an inside edge on him. He is good friends with Ridly Greig." – Flyers Assistant GM Brent Flahr