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Doc Emrick serious about NHL Winter Classic prep work

Sports commentator Doc Emrick waves to fans as

Sports commentator Doc Emrick waves to fans as he is presented with a car from the New Jersey Devils during a ceremony to honor him before their game against the Vancouver Canucks. (Feb. 24, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

NBC's Doc Emrick is among the handful of most respected play-by-play men in sports television, some of which is a testament to his talent but a lot of which is a testament to his passion and work ethic.

Take next week's NHL Winter Classic.

Emrick said he arrived in Buffalo on New Year's Eve, 2007, the day before the first Classic in Orchard Park, N.Y., and attended the teams' practices. Not good enough.

"Then I realized after that first game that this had taken on a gravity that really required more time, so I started going in three days early," he said.

"Now in the role Pierre [McGuire] has or Eddie [Olczyk] has, it may not be necessary to go in that early. But I find that I need to be in just to circulate around the stadium and listen to people talk about not only their city, but also about their sports history. And it's amazing the things that you can write down that you later ask one of the players about that might wind up being a part of what you can use that day.

"I just think it's a lot more comfortable to be there in advance, and I'm going in on the evening of the 29th just so I can go to the rink and be there on the 30th and 31st.

"Dan Craig and I spend a lot of time together, basically, because I force myself to be down there asking him questions all the time. I learn an awful lot from Dan. I know that our average temperature on January 1 in Washington is 44 and Dan likes the ice at 22. He was involved with Dodger Stadium last year where the starting faceoff temperature was 62 and the ice was reported to be the best of any of them that occurred outdoors last year.

"These are things that are just fascinating to me, so I guess the good thing is, NBC let's me off all of that time just to go in and hang out for a few days."

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