What was supposed to be a celebratory weekend for the NHL and city of Los Angeles was dampened by some terribly unfortunate news. Legendary Los Angeles Kings broadcaster Bob Miller suffered a mild stroke this past Saturday.
According to the team, Miller is recovering in the hospital and is in good spirits, although his eventual return to the booth is seemingly unclear.
Miller is in his 44th season as the Los Angeles play-by-play announcer, first taking over the role in 1973. In a remarkable example of continuity from the franchise, he has called games alongside color commentator and former Kings great Jim Fox since 1990.
Miller is synonymous with Southern California hockey the same way Vin Scully is synonymous with Southern California baseball.
If that sounds like hyperbole, consider the fact that Miller has been narrating Kings games since the Nixon administration.
Miller has had some severe health problems recently. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery last year and missed the final three months of the 2015-2016 season.
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The 78 year old returned this season and planned to call 58 of the 82 games, including all the home games. It’s unclear now how much of that original plan will materialize.
Miller was given the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000. He is a national treasure to all who love this great game.
I remember first hearing Miller’s voice during the Mighty Ducks movies as a kid, and admittedly I’ve been hooked on his hockey prose ever since.
Miller has accumulated some memorable calls over the years, but one of my favorites from him will always be Russ Tyler’s knuckle-puck goal against Team Iceland, and I’m sure many people born in the late 80s and early 90s agree with me on that.
I truly believe that broadcasters are as important to the lore of a sport as the players themselves. There’s an engulfing warmness when reminiscing about watching or listening to games of your favorite teams that nearly every fan can relate to.
You remember the voice that delivered the excitement or agony you felt as much as the player responsible for eliciting that emotion on the field or ice.
This news just saddens me so much. For purely selfish reasons, I hope that we haven’t heard the last of Miller calling Kings games, because the experience provided by that is so enjoyable.
Keeping the broader picture in mind, my thoughts right now are with his family and friends. I can’t imagine what they must be going through.
If fate would have it that fans of the game will no longer have the privilege to sit in front of a TV and be riveted by the grace with which Miller articulates the poetry of hockey, we all lose.
I’m sending my love to Bob and his family, and wishing him a speedy and successful recovery through this ordeal.