These are the names that are synonymous with the Los Angeles Kings. However, no name rings more of an association with this proud franchise than one who served it a few levels up in the broadcast booth.
To say that it is a sad day for the Los Angeles Kings, their fans and the city of Los Angeles would be a grave understatement. Fans of the Kings and the MLB‘s Dodgers understandably feel a bit more pain as their baseball team’s beloved broadcaster, the legendary Vin Scully, retired after calling his final game just last fall. Nevertheless, to see Bob Miller walk away from the broadcast booth is something that few, if any, had prepared themselves for — and who can blame them?
Since 1973, from the the Great Western Forum to STAPLES Center, Mr. Miller has graced the broadcast booth with such eloquence, class and a refreshing amount of objectivity. From his in-booth style to his genuine love of hockey, Bob Miller was the epitome of the textbook broadcaster — of an exceptional storyteller even — and every Kings fan, whether they followed the team for two years, two decades or since their inception in 1967, were, win or lose, richer for the experience of listening to the Hall-of-Famer’s call of the games.
But, as masterful as he was behind the microphone, there was more to Bob Miller than being a broadcaster.
While I have been a fan of the Los Angeles Kings for many years, I only began writing about the club during the 2009-10, at the height of the Kings’ chase to return to the playoffs. It was also during this time when I began connecting with hundreds, and later thousands, of Kings fans via social media. It was from that point forward that I realized just how warm and friendly of a man Bob Miller really was. Then, in December 2014, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Miller.
The Kings were in Toronto playing at the Maple Leafs‘ practice facility when one of the team’s executives was gracious enough to let me stand with the rest of the front office as we all watched the players practice. There, I spotted Mr. Miller, subtly sidled up beside him when he gave me a friendly hello. From there, we had a pleasant conversation about the Kings, still fresh off winning their second Stanley Cup. I even told him that I’d love to interview him when he gave me his personal email address.
After that first meeting, I couldn’t help but wonder why such an accomplished and respected man had such a distinctive, albeit refreshing, absence of ego. Speaking with the Hall-of-Famer that day in Toronto was arguably the easiest, most natural conversation I had in recent memory — and that says a lot for someone who has a stutter. Even better, when I wrote up the finished piece of that first interview — one that included a testimonial to the man — Mr. Miller sent me a message saying how reading my words about him made him feel really good. That, as you can imagine, made my month.
Soon afterwards, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Miller — who, by the way, always insisted that I call him “Bob” — and it was wonderful not only listening to his great stories but even better speaking with someone who was both willing and excited to talk. Even when he said “Hi Ryan,” when we started our conversations, it genuinely sounded like he was an old friend who loved hearing my voice again.
For 44 years, fans of the Los Angeles Kings have had the pleasure of listening to Bob Miller call their team’s games. From Butch Goring‘s famous playoff overtime goal and the ‘Miracle on Manchester‘ to the ‘Frenzy on Figueroa‘ and the first (and second) Stanley Cups win to everything in between, Bob Miller was there, and he helped magnify every moment with the sound of his captivating voice. But, it wasn’t the broadcaster so much as the human being that made myself, in addition to the plethora of Kings fans, feel like a million dollars.
Bob Miller will forever go down in hockey, even sports, history as one of the greatest to ever call a game, joining the likes of legends Gene Hart, Danny Gallivan and even the great Foster Hewitt. Bob Miller will also go down as one of the greatest storytellers to ever grace the broadcast booth, filling in fans on the countless tales he has experienced as part of the Kings organization. Best and most importantly of all, though, is that Bob Miller will always be remembered as a first-class man who was always willing to take some time out of his busy schedule for the fans and for the media.
My colleague Jeff Duarte and I were both shocked and thrilled when we saw Bob Miller at this past November’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony, having had the opportunity to speak with both him and his wife Judy. I can safely speak for Mr. Duarte when I say that, largely thanks to the 78-year-old, said evening will forever be a career highlight for us.
Mr. Miller, you will be sorely missed by the Los Angeles Kings’ ever-loyal fanbase. Watching games will never quite be the same again. But, as you step away from the broadcast booth, just know what a life-lasting impact you had on so many fans, including myself.
Mr. Miller, thank you for the memories, thank you for your stories, thank you for your voice and thank you for your generosity, but, most of all, thank you for being Bob Miller.