As someone who only sees 4% of 20/20 vision, I rely on play-by-play announcers to help me get through hockey games on TV. Because of my NHL addiction, I’ve heard many announcers from many networks and markets, and I’ve decided to compile a list of my three favorites. These individuals allow me to feel… well, normal when I watch games, because they’ve always been able to give me a sense of what’s happening even though I can’t always see it for myself.
3. Joe Beninati: Comcast Sportsnet, Washington Capitals
I first became familiar with the voice of Joe B from watching Monday night games on Versus a few years back. I remember enjoying the emphasis he’d put on phrases like “he FIRES” and “STOPPED BY VARLOMOV*, Yes, every play-by-play announcer says things like that, but I always thought there was something about how Joe B said them that made it enjoyable. Maybe it was his tone, or maybe it was how I always felt as though I could feel how genuinely excited he was. He spoke clearly, never butchered the pronounciation of European names, and never once came off as a “homer”.
2. Mike “Doc” Emrick: NBC Sports
I’ll be honest, I didn’t like Doc so much at first. During the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, I found the mix of him, Eddie O, and Pierre McGuire to be the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard while someone played Soulja Boy in the background. It took me listening to a New Jersey Devils game the following season to realize that my gripe was with Eddie and Pierre, and not Mr. Emrick. Until this year, Doc did play-by-play for the Devils, and occasionally for Versus and NBC. Now, he’s a full time fixture for NBC Sports, and I love it. He provides a level of sanity to Eddie O’s ego and Pierre McGuire’s utter creepiness that I truly believe not many announcers could, all while staying balanced and being descriptive. His voice and choice of words clearly paint a picture of a man who deeply loves what he does, and that’s so rare these days.
1. Ken Daniels: Fox Sports, Detroit Red WIngs
I know what you’re thinking. “You put someone before Doc! HOW COULD YOU?”. Look, there is no denying that Mr. Emerick is an incredible talent. However, I’m a Red Wings fan. The majority of the games I watch are called by Ken Daniels, and I’ve grown so fond of how he calls them that not putting him at number one just wouldn’t have been fair. Ken Daniels doesn’t have a catchphrase. He doesn’t use clever little sayings, or try to make himself sound like a walking hockey encyclopedia. Ken Daniels calls hockey games, nothing more, nothing less, and that’s what makes him so great. Even if I’m nowhere near my TV, I always know exactly what’s happening on the ice when he’s calling a game. Yes, his co-pilot, former NHLer Mickey Redmond, isn’t always the most impartial person on the air, but Ken Daniels always seems to be able to keep his cool and stay unbiased, even when we’re playing the Blackhawks.