Championship pressure? Not for these broadcasters

Mike "Doc" Emrick is calling the Stanley Cup Finals for NBC. (Photo by Charles Sykes/NBC)

Mike “Doc” Emrick is calling the Stanley Cup Finals for NBC.
(Photo by Charles Sykes/NBC)

Hockey season is nearing its end. The Stanley Cup finals have finally arrived.

Most people are focused on how their favorite players are preparing, but I wondered something different: How do the broadcasters prepare? Are the stakes higher? Do they feel the same pressure calling the championship series as the athletes do in playing it?

To find out, I asked the guys who are broadcasting the Boston Bruins-Chicago Blackhawks finals match-up for NBC.

“I don’t feel any more pressure,” said analyst Pierre McGuire. “The biggest thing is you get in the arena. You come prepared. You try to sell the game.”


A little bit.

There are no hockey games in the world more important than the Stanley Cup Finals, so I figured there would be a greater pressure on everyone involved – broadcasters included.

What I learned, though, is the difference is only in the audience.

“The games are viewed by more people and the games are important because they are playing for the championship now,” said play-by-play man Mike “Doc” Emrick. “I guess I don’t notice it that much differently than I would in an earlier round of the playoffs or maybe in a last part of the season game.”

Doc pointed out that during the season, a broadcaster’s focus is usually 70/30, with 70 percent being on the home team. For the Cup games, however, it’s a 50/50 focus.

Eddie Olczyk, who works alongside Doc as the in-game analyst, told me that the job of teaching and selling the game is essentially the same in the Cup finals. There are some tiny differences, too. For example, Eddie works with the Western Conference champion Chicago Blackhawks throughout the season. For these national broadcasts, however, he can’t use player nicknames that are familiar to Blackhawks fans.

Even for him, though, the finals aren’t too different from regular games.

“We strive to make sure that we tell the story, sell the game, tell fans why things happen or what we think is going to happen, or what we think on a specific call on the ice,” he said. “I think when I get in trouble is when I try to do too much. (The goal is to) read the story instead of writing it, meaning let things happen.”

Which means a bigger audience doesn’t necessarily mean more pressure. At least not when you’re prepared and confident.

Hailey Rose Gattuso, LSY sports editor, Mount St. Mary Academy

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