Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick explains his play-by-play cheat sheet

Mike 'Doc' Emrick shows off one of his cheat sheets for calling a game during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. (Luke Fox/Sportsnet.ca)

Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike “Doc” Emrick is retiring after 50-years covering hockey. During the 2015 Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lighting and Chicago Blackhawks, he walked Sportsnet’s Luke Fox through the colour-coded cheat sheet he uses to call games.

TAMPA, Fla. — The legendary Mike “Doc” Emrick is calling his 17th Stanley Cup Final for NBC Sports this week.

Turns out, the 68-year-old member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame devotes as much attention to his pre-game notes as he does his in-game verbiage.

During Game 5’s morning skate in Tampa—slapping sticks and striding skates our soundtrack—Emrick held up his colour-coded, handwritten cheat sheet and broke it down for us.

Incredibly, he drafts one of these for every game he calls and has a special section for each annotation. The work of a gentle genius.

Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick shows off one of his cheat sheets for calling a game during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. (Luke Fox/Sportsnet.ca)

DOC EMRICK: “This is what today’s looks like, but I keep together all the game sheets from the previous games in the series in a stack in case I have to figure out something.

“Up top, it has the scores of the games, the home and road records, overtime records, who’s leading the league — and if they’re in red, that means they’re playing in the game.

“I write down the two goaltenders and anything noteworthy in case I have to fill time. Four-on-four: Both teams have scored one and given up one four-on-four. There’s 23 occasions for the blue team, which is Tampa, 12 for Chicago. Five-on-threes for Chicago: 1 for 3, 0 for 2 against. Tampa: 0 for 2, 0 for 3 against. And they had one in this series that lasted 1:26. It’s far more information than you probably need.

“The green slashes [left column, next to roster] are points in this series as opposed to their overall points. Like, Hedman has four assists; Hossa has four assists.

“I keep the birthdays here [bottom left box] in case we need filler in the third period. The guys that are old and retired like to hear their name once in a while on their birthday. It’s odd. You hear from guys you haven’t heard from ever: ‘I appreciate you mentioning that I had a birthday.’

“These [middle left] are a couple of quotes from each coach. These are statistical things [below the quotes]. Everything in red is Chicago; blue is Tampa.

“These are the other two pro leagues [bottom left] and where they stand in the final. The ECHL will be decided on Sunday, and the AHL could be decided tonight because Manchester won Friday night, so they’re ahead three games to one.

“These [below penalty info] are the leaders in the series, and the league does not publish these, so what I have to do is go fish all these stats out from every game myself. The league doesn’t do it. All they give you is goals, assists and shots—that’s easy. But to see that Seabrook has 17 hits? I wouldn’t have thought he’d be the leading hitter for Chicago.”

“These [just below leaders] are the three stars for the playoffs. Bishop has had it eight times. Toews and Kane have been a three-star six times each.

“These are things I do because it interests me. Chances are, most of this will never make it on the broadcast.”

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