Before Sunday night’s NHL Outdoors Game at Lake Tahoe, NBC aired an hour-long special dedicated to Mike “Doc” Emrick’s incredible career as a play-by-play broadcaster. While it was interesting to hear how Emrick first fell in love with hockey at Fort Wayne, or how he called games for Bowling Green while getting his PhD at the same time, the part that hit closest to home for Blackhawks fans was the description of Emrick’s special relationship with his broadcasting partner Eddie Olczyk.
“I think just a very genuine, respectful, trustworthy relationship both on the air and off the air,” Olczyk said in “Doc Emrick: The Voice of Hockey.” “Doc was talking about our relationship, and he said, ‘I hope when Edzo is 65 that he has someone to take care of him, as he has taken care of me.’ When I heard that, I felt like I had arrived, because you’re getting the stamp of approval from the greatest play-by-play man we’ve ever had, in any sport.”
Emrick shared similar sentiments when describing Olczyk, his broadcasting partner since 2006.
“Probably the best way to describe Eddie Olczyk is, he’s just a good soul,” Emrick said in the hour-long special. “He promised the first day that he and I began working together, ‘I’ll always have your back,’ and he did.”
But what makes their relationship even more special is their shared experience as cancer survivors. Emrick was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in 1991, while Olczyk was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017.
“I could share things with Doc,” Olczyk said. “He could do the same. I think that’s how we became so close, is to be able to have that openness.”
Olczyk says that constant support was helpful during his fight.
“Every day. Every day from Doc. A text, call, lighting a candle at church. He understood how important it was to be supportive and to be a friend in that most difficult stage. I had incredible support from my wife, and my kids, and my family, my team of doctors and all my friends, but it meant a lot.”
“To be on his side during that time, I realized I wasn’t the only one, but I was glad he would share with me how he felt at times,” Emrick said. “To have friends, you be a friend. To be on his side during that time, I was glad to be. Because if it would’ve been the other way around, he would’ve been there for me.”
Emrick retired from his broadcasting career following the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. He called over 3,700 games for 47 years, including six Olympics. But Olczyk says the thing he’ll miss the most about having Emrick as his partner has nothing to do with hockey.
“The one thing I will miss the most is our dinners we had together, one-on-one,” Olczyk said. “We had many nights on the road that we would just talk about life, talk about family. You know we’re both cancer survivors. It’s sad. Selfishly I can’t have both anymore, but I can still have those dinners with Doc, away from the game.
“I always feel I’ll be his partner, and I’m proud to say that.”
If you missed the debut of “Doc Emrick: The Voice of Hockey,” it will re-air this Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., then again at 9:30 p.m.