3000+ games called, 11 Stanley Cup Finals, 6 Winter Olympics, 2 World Cups, a recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial award and the first broadcaster to be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. There are a lot of achievements in the career of the legendary Mike “Doc” Emrick, but with nothing to do until October, the folks at NBC Sports Group asked Doc to do something he has done only one other time in his career: call water polo matches at the Olympic Games in London this summer. In my opinion, this is better than rooting for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
You see, water polo’s like hockey, except you trade in all of your equipment in for a Speedo. And instead of 60 minutes of intense action in a 200′ x 95′ rink, it’s 32 minutes of intense action inside a 30m × 20m pool. There are some similarities that water polo and hockey share. Fo rexample, if a major foul is occurred, the violating team is sent off for a “man down” situation. Their version of a power play lasts as long as a hockey shift: 20 seconds. And if a major foul is occurred within the 5m zone, a penalty shot is awarded. But most importantly the one thing water polo and hockey have in common is that some Doc-isms can be used in water polo, such as “jostling the ball into the corner” or the ball “knifed away” from the offensive zone, and my personal favorite: “Hit the post with the shot!”
And why not? Both the U.S. men’s and women’s water polo team are legit contenders in the Olympic tournament. The men’s team, led by head coach Terry Schroeder and star players Tony Azevedo and Merrill Moses, are trying to unseat the 3-time and defending Olympic champions from Hungary. The women’s team, led by head coach Adam Krikorian and star players Jessica Steffens and Brenda Villa, are trying keep the trend of winning an Olympic Medal going. They are the only nation to medal at every Olympics since women’s water polo was introduced in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
As for the remainder of the NHL on NBC staff, the only people who get the summer off is lead analyst Eddie Olczyk, #2 analyst Brian Engblom, studio analyst Mike Milbury, studio analyst Keith Jones, and studio analyst Mike Keenan. Besides Doc calling water polo, other NHL on NBC staffers will work the London Olympics for the NBC Sports Group. NHL on NBC studio host Liam McHugh will host Olympic coverage on NBC Sports Network alongside Access Hollywood co-host Michelle Beadle and MSNBC’s Willie Geist. NHL on NBC‘s #2 play-by-play announcer, Dave Strader, will call games with NBC Sports NBA analyst Donny Marshall and ESPN women’s college basketball analyst Carolyn Peck. And for once, “Inside the Glass” analyst Pierre McGuire won’t report from between the benches, but instead contribute from the NBC SportsDesk.
I know it won’t be long before the new hockey season begins, but at least for the time being, we can only imagine and watch as history is being made in the capital of the British Commonwealth.