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Hockey's Doc Emrick And His 153 Verbs

Sports commentator Mike "Doc" Emrick waves to fans as he is presented with a jersey by the New Jersey Devils in 2012.
Sports commentator Mike "Doc" Emrick waves to fans as he is presented with a jersey by the New Jersey Devils in 2012.

Even if you're a fairly enthusiastic sports fan — someone who can identify sportscasters Jim Nantz or Joe Buck by tenor and intonation alone — you may very well have never heard the name Doc Emrick.

Mike "Doc" Emrick is the world's premier announcer for what is America's fourth team sport: ice hockey. For those who know hockey, or those aficionados who listen to a few minutes of an NHL game just to hear Emrick talk about blue lines or poke checking, he is absolutely revered.

Emrick isn't even Canadian, and his background is in academia — hence the professorial nickname — but he is that rare play-by-play man who is both an authority on the game and a connoisseur of the language. The eloquence he brings to such a bombastic activity is the sort of giant contradiction that even overwhelms irony.

Hockey is surely as fast a game as any — but somehow, even during line changes, or the chaos of a scramble for a puck behind the cage, Doc is able to speak in coherent sentences, complete with subordinate clauses, even turning a clever phrase as the puck clears, and he is able to catch his mind. A devoted fan once counted 153 verbs that Doc used in one game to describe the movement of the puck.

To hear more on Doc Emrick from Frank Deford — and a sample of those 153 verbs — click on the audio link.

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