Bob Miller’s first day as the Kings play-by-play announcer came in September of 1973, during a pre-season exhibition game. That year, training camp was held in Victoria, British Columbia. The game was being broadcast in LA on KFI radio, the same station that carried Lakers, Dodgers and USC games.
“I think baseball was still being played, football was being played, basketball was starting and our game came on the air at about 2 ‘o clock in the morning,” Miller said. “I think my wife was the only one who tried to stay up and listen to it and I think she fell asleep too.”
The Kings played the Chicago Blackhawks for the first game of the 1973-74 season, which was also the first regular season broadcast Miller ever did.
The game was on October 10, 1973 and it was on radio only, not a telecast. “I was studying the numbers on the way down to the forum,” he said. “My wife was testing me on all the numbers and everything and the Kings got shut out, 3-0.”
“I just remember that I tried to make it as exciting as we could but it wasn’t a very exciting game.”
Thirty-nine years later, Miller is still the “Voice of the Kings.” He has received many awards during his lengthy career, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Foster Hewitt Award in 2000, which is given to individuals who have contributed to the hockey broadcast field and game. He is the seven-time winner of Top Southern California TV play-by-play announcer.
Miller has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Kings Hall of Fame, the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the California Sports Hall of Fame.
He got the call about his Hockey Hall of Fame nomination while he was eating breakfast one morning.
“Chuck Kaiton, who was the president of the broadcasters for the NHL, called and he just said I just want to let you know…you’ve been nominated for the Hockey Hall of Fame,” Miller said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
For the past 22 years, Miller has worked for the Kings broadcast with former Kings player Jim Fox.
“It’s just great working with him because he is so knowledgeable about the game and I’ve told him I learn something from him every time we’re on the air,” Miller said. “I’ll learn something because he sees things being an ex-player that I’ll never see, because he was in certain situations on the ice and he knows what’s going through those players minds and he can bring [that] back to the viewer.”
Miller, a Chicago native, used to play hockey on frozen ponds in the winter with his friends. His first taste of pro hockey came when he used to go down to the Chicago Stadium and watch the Blackhawks.
At the same time, Miller also played baseball, which he continued through high school and two years in college, at the University of Iowa.
“I always knew from an early age that I would like to be an announcer. I remember listening to the White Sox announcers and Blackhawks and the Chicago Bears, and thinking, what a great job to be in the arena or the stadium every night—and that’s your job.”
When Miller isn’t doing the Kings play-by-play, you can find him playing his guitar and singing.
He always wanted to play an instrument; one day, his wife, Judy, bought him a guitar. After games, Miller enjoys coming home and playing guitar for about an hour.
During a trip to Ireland with Judy in 2007, Miller found himself on stage at a Dublin pub.
“The guy said, ‘Anybody want to do anything?’
And I said, ‘Can I play your guitar?’
So I got up and played a song that is titled, ‘I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore.’ Everybody was howling, so it was fun.”
Throughout his career, Miller witnessed Kings history as it unfolded—wins, losses, milestones. One of the most memorable moments for him occurred on Oct. 15, 1989, the night Wayne Gretzky made history as the league’s all-time leading point scorer. That night the Kings were playing in Edmonton against the Oilers and Gretzky needed only two more points to surpass Gordie Howe’s record of 1,850 career points.
During the previous summer, someone called Miller and asked him about what he would say when the moment came when Gretzky would become the greatest scorer of all time.
“That got me thinking, well, maybe I do have to say something else you know. I wrote down a few things,” Miller said, “but I didn’t want to sound like I was reading it. I didn’t want to try to memorize in that moment because you might forget it so I had it written down.”
On that historical night, the Great One earned a point on an assist, tying Howe’s record. With 53 seconds left to go in the game, Gretzky scored. He earned his 1,851st point, surpassing Howe.
“He scored a goal and became the greatest scorer in the history of the game. The line that I said after I described the play was simply, ‘the Great One has become the greatest of them all…the all-time leading scorer in the history of the National Hockey League.’”
“It just put kind of a final moment on that great moment in his career and in Kings history.”
Miller has done over 3,000 games and doesn’t see himself retiring anytime soon.
"As the years went on, I realized I want to be here with this team when it wins the Stanley Cup,” he said.
And on June 11, 2012, after almost four decades with the team, he didn’t have to wait any longer. On that night, Miller witnessed history once again—the night the Kings became champions.
-- By Sarah Sotoodeh