If you regularly watch New Jersey Devils games on TV, you're going to have to prepare yourself for them to have a different voice this upcoming season and in the future.
Mike Emrick, the Devils' long-time play-by-play voice, announced Thursday that he is leaving the broadcast booth after 21 seasons to join NBC/Versus exclusively. He had already worked for NBC/Versus in recent years on a part-time basis alongside Ed Olczyk.
In a letter to Devils fans published on the team's official web site, Emrick writes:
A good friend advised me several years ago that before any major decision, you should look in the mirror and look at your birth certificate.He went on to thank the Devils franchise and the MSG Network for their loyalty over the years, as well as Devils fans for all of the kindness they showed to he and his wife.
Since my contracts with MSG, VERSUS, and NBC all expired late this spring, this was another of those times. I discovered that the birth certificate couldn't be changed and it showed me to be 65 in a few days. I've been extremely fortunate to have been able to spend 23 incredible years with the MSG Network channels and 21 equally enjoyable years--including 3 Stanley Cup championships--with the New Jersey Devils.
However, considering the long-term significance of this decision, I was able to construct a lighter regular season-schedule and the usual complement of Stanley Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Final games for NBC and VERSUS. But that assurance of less travel and fewer games has regrettably led me to end my association with the MSG Network channels and the Devils.
Fans can grow attached to unique announcers, and Emrick is certainly one of the best -- and most excitable -- still going in the NHL, and it's sure to be a disappointment for Devils fans that grew up listening to him call their games. Throughout his broadcasting career, he's been awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States in 2004, and he was also presented with the Foster Hewitt Award in 2008.
Here's an NHL Network feature on his work with the Devils from a couple of years ago...