Considering they have probably broadcast more than 8,000 pro hockey games, it's something of a miracle that Bob Chase and Mike Emrick have never called a game together. After all, they've possibly talked more hockey than any two men in history, and when they aren't on the air, they are talking about it a lot with each other.
As part of celebrating Chase's 60th season calling Komets' games, NBC's lead hockey broadcaster is coming to town Friday to lend his voice to Chase and color man Robbie Irons' call of Fort Wayne's game against Evansville.
This may be the only time something good is coming out of the National Hockey League's lockout, because usually Emrick is too busy calling games to get back to Fort Wayne during the season. When Chase was receiving the Lester Patrick Trophy on Oct. 15 at a banquet in Dallas, Emrick sat next to Komets president Michael Franke, who suggested each man use this opportunity to fulfill lifelong goals.
Emrick, 66, grew up in Lafontaine listening to Chase, now 86, and became a diehard hockey fan. He came to his first Komets' game Dec. 10, 1960, and eventually met his idol during his junior year at Manchester College while working on a paper about sports broadcasting. Throughout his 40-year career of calling games in several Olympics, Stanley Cup Finals, NHL All-Star Games and World Championships, Emrick has always made sure to mention Chase's impact on his life.
Emrick also wrote the introduction to Chase's autobiography, ``Live From Radio Rinkside.''
The two men did work on one broadcast together, but never from the same booth while the game was going on. During the 2000 United Hockey League All-Star Game in Muskegon, Fury broadcaster Terry Ficorelli worked with Flint's Robert Roe and Chase from the radio booth while Emrick interviewed players and league officials from ice level. Emrick joined Chase and Ficorelli for part of the second intermission.
Ficorelli, who is in his 39th season calling games, will also be in Fort Wayne on Friday, calling the radio broadcast for Evansville. This will be the Komets' 4,500th regular-season game in their 61-year history.
Emrick was also in Fort Wayne on March 8, 2003, when Chase was inducted into the Komets Hall of Fame as part of his 50th season anniversary, but he did not join the broadcast.
The Komets are suggesting fans bring their own radios or listening devices to the game, which will be broadcast on WOWO, 1190-AM and 92.3 FM, and online at www.komets.com. The Komets are still finalizing details about a possible autograph session with Emrick, which would likely have to be held after the game.
``It's soft of like `Field of Dreams,' though not with father and son,'' Emrick said. ``It's more of an icon and the guy who grew up listening to him. We have to be careful to translate that fun so the audience enjoys it, too.''
Even the most experienced broadcasters are already admitting they will have some nervous anticipation.
``I get them before I start every hockey game,'' Chase said. ``It's the anticipation of what you want to see that lights your fire. When it doesn't work out, then the butterflies drop dead. This is another career high. This has been such a career year for me I'm afraid my emotional system can't handle much more. It's really going to be a `Wow!' ''
But Chase said it shouldn't take them too long to figure out how the process will work.
``All he said was, `Michael, we're going to talk. Somehow we'll call the game, too,' '' Emrick said Chase told him. ``I don't know what my obligations will be. It may just be spontaneous and that's fine. Whatever it is will be fun for me. I'm not driving the bus, I'm just sitting behind the driver.''
Emrick has already started his homework, studying ECHL statistics and talking with each team's media officials about the pronunciation of player names. He said he's also looking forward to watching minor league legends Todd Robinson of Evansville and Colin Chaulk of the Komets play.
``I talked to Mike (Emrick) and he said, `Whatever you want to do, I'm at your disposal,' '' Chase said. ``Whatever happens, I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun.''
They better. After all, this may be their one and only chance.