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Bob Miller, the beloved voice of the Los Angeles Kings since 1973, will call the final two games of the team’s regular season before he retires, he announced Thursday during an emotional news conference at Staples Center.
Miller, 78, has not worked since suffering a minor stroke during the NHL’s All-Star Game weekend in L.A. in late January. He had already scaled back his schedule after missing much of last season after he had a heart attack and then quadruple bypass surgery on Feb. 2, 2016.
Miller, though, said he plans to do the play-by-play for the Kings’ April 8 game at home against Chicago and then their April 9 contest at Anaheim before calling it a career.
He revealed Thursday that he recently had a stent inserted in his left carotid artery and that his right one is 60 percent clogged.
“The doctor said you’ve got to go slow, you’ve got to take it easy,” Miller said. “And I said, in this sport, in my mind, there’s no taking it easy.
“When they drop the puck, you’re going, you’re on, that’s what the fans expect of us, and that’s the way you want to do the game. You want to be involved in it, you want to be energetic, excited. You can’t just say I’ll just do two periods really dull and then I’ll get excited in the third.
“I kind of knew then that this would be the time [to retire], with the exception of doing those final two games. I hope I’m able to get through them.”
Jim Fox, his broadcast partner on the Kings telecasts since 1990, told Patrick O’Neal of Fox Sports West that Miller “wants to say bye to the Kings fans. We’ve seen him interact with them. They are the lifeblood for him. He wants to do the game for them.”
Fox was visibly sad during the news conference, seen sobbing in the front row.
“I’m a generation apart from Bob in age. He could be my dad,” he told O’Neal. “But we go on the road, we hang. We listen, he tells the jokes, he tells a story like no one else.
“I love his broadcasts. He always has the appropriate amount of emotion and energy. He doesn’t overdo it, he doesn’t underdo it. He covers the moment perfectly.”
A member of Hockey Hall of Fame since 2000, Miller said he has done 3,351 broadcasts during his decades in broadcasting, which started on the radio at the University of Iowa in 1957. The Kings, now in their 50th season, have had only three regular play-by-play men.
A native of Chicago who called his first hockey game at the University of Wisconsin in 1968, Miller spoke about how thrilled he was when the Kings finally won the Stanley Cup in 2012 — then did it again two years later.
“In Los Angeles we’ve been very fortunate with the voices that we’ve had,” said Luc Robitaille, the team’s president of business operations and a former Kings star. “You think of the Dodgers, you think of Vin Scully; you think of the Lakers, it’s Chick Hearn. For us, for all hockey fans, we’ve had Bob for 44 years.”
He added, “We’re so glad we got two Stanley Cups for you.” To which Miller replied, “So am I!”
Also on hand at the news conference was Miller’s wife, Judy. “We’ve been married for 53 years, and he’s been gone for half of it, so now what am I going to do?” she said to roars of laughter.
“I’m going to miss the thrill of doing live television,” Miller said. “It excites me that at 7:30, we’re going to go on the air for two and a half, maybe three hours, ad-libbing the game most of the time. … For the most part, they drop that puck and you’re on your own.”
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