Bob Miller broadcast the 3,353rd and final game of his 44-season Los Angeles Kings career Sunday as the team concluded its season with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center.
Miller closed the broadcast by praising analyst Jim Fox, then thanked “viewers and listeners for joining us all these years, for your passion for Kings hockey, for your loyalty to the Los Angeles Kings and to the National Hockey League. I know all that will continue.
I’ll be visiting with you and look forward to it because I’ve enjoyed visiting with all of you Kings fans down through the years. I’ll be at some games in the future and be able to renew those friendships and those visits and I look forward to it.
But for now, with Anaheim winning in overtime the end is here for me, so the only thing I have to say is good night and goodbye.”
When regulation play ended in a 3-3 tie Miller said, “They’re not going to let me retire.”
A banner with Miller’s name, “44 years of broadcast excellence” and 44 in a circle hung in front of his broadcast booth.
The Kings held “Bob Miller Appreciation Day” at Saturday’s game at Staples Center.
“It was special,” Miller told reporters afterward. “Everything from outside, inside. It was almost overwhelming. So many great comments from people on the scoreboard, people I didn’t know they knew where to find them. It was very gratifying to me.”
Miller said he “didn’t know half of what was going on outside `til I saw it on the TV monitors. I said that autograph wall, is that’s going to fit in the back of my SUV? I don’t think so.”
A pregame Fan Fest was held outside Staples Center where fans could sign a special 20-foot “Signature Wall” and leave personal messages.
Miller said the “most gratifying thing was to see the game end this way.” Dustin Brown scored the tying goal with 55 seconds left in regulation and Drew Doughty the game-winner 27 seconds into overtime in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
“We had mentioned the perfect scenario would be for Dustin Brown to get the game-winning goal,” Miller said. “He didn’t get the game-winner but he got the one that tied it.”
Miller said Brown was his choice to score the game winner because he had handed him the Stanley Cup when the Kings first won the title in 2012 and “Dustin and his wife Nicole have been really good with sending congratulations.”
The game’s final minutes, which included Miller being shown in a box on the Fox Sports West telecast, “wasn’t a sad thing for me,” because “of the excitement of the game and the excitement of the crowd and see them on their feet, cheering … and to see a Kings win like that,” Miller said.
“It will even be better to go down and win again tomorrow in Anaheim,” Miller said.
Miller likened the game to longtime Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully’s final game at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 25 when Corey Seager hit a tying solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and Charlie Culberson the winning solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the tenth to assure the team of its fourth consecutive National League West Division championship.
The tributes to Miller included multiple interior and exterior atmosphere and decor elements changed to read “Thank You Bob,” including the large City View Terrace banner.
Several testimonial videos were played throughout the game. Tribute videos were played to start the game and third period and midway through the third period, with Scully among those paying tribute to Miller.
Miller participated in the Kings players annual “Jerseys Off Their Back” ceremony at the end of the game for the first time, presenting a special Bob Miller jersey with the number 44, referring to his 44 seasons with the team, and Bob on the back to the winner of a drawing.
The entire team wore the jerseys during pregame warmups.
Miller then addressed the capacity crowd announced at 18,230 from the Staples Center ice.
“I just wanted to say all of you, I appreciate your loyalty and enthusiasm for the Kings team and your passion for the Kings and the sport of hockey and the NHL,” Miller said.
“I have truly enjoyed my association with all of you, getting to meet you, getting to find about all of you and sharing stories about your enthusiasm and your loyalty to this Kings team. Let’s win again tomorrow. That would be a great way to end this.”
Saturday’s game was the 78-year-old Miller’s first since Jan. 16. He suffered a mild stroke on Jan. 28, hours before he was scheduled to work a live broadcast of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition.
Miller announced his retirement March 2.
“Due to four separate health incidents the last year, quadruple bypass heart surgery, a transient ischemic attack, a mild stroke and a stent placed in my left carotid artery, and with doctor’s advice to slow down, it’s time for me to retire,” Miller said when he announced his retirement.
Miller became a hockey announcer in 1968, when the program director at his radio station in Madison, Wisconsin, told him he would be announcing a University of Wisconsin game the following Friday because it was the school’s only team to win consistently and draw standing-room-only crowds.
Miller first sought to be hired by the Kings in 1972, when the team’s original announcer, Jiggs McDonald, left for the expansion Atlanta Flames.
Legendary Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn recommended Miller for the job, but team owner Jack Kent Cooke hired California Golden Seals announcer Roy Storey.
When Storey was fired after one season, Hearn again recommended Miller, with Cooke going along that second time.
There was a benefit to the one-season delay in joining the Kings. Staying at Wisconsin, he broadcast the Badgers during their 1972-73 NCAA championship season.
Miller waited 39 years to broadcast another title-winning team, when the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, which they won again in 2014.
Miller’s honors include the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, given to members of the television and radio industries for outstanding contributions to their profession and hockey, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and membership in the halls of fame of the Kings and Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.
—City News Service