“The first time I came across the idea was about three seconds after they asked me if I wanted to do it,” Fox said.
For the past 22 seasons, Fox has been the Kings commentator, along with play-by-play broadcaster Bob Miller. Transitioning from professional athlete to broadcaster proved a significant adjustment. It took three years, he said, to get comfortable.
“I came off a field in which I was excelling at, professional athlete, into an area where I was lost—awful. If they were willing to stick with me and give me the opportunity then, which they did, I’m grateful for that—more than grateful for that,” Fox said.
“But if I was, even into my second year, even into my third year—if I was judged on my performance…they must have been very patient because they allowed me time to work into it.”
Fox first joined the Kings in 1980, the year he was drafted. He was just 20 years old when he started his professional hockey career.
Like any aspiring hockey player, getting to the NHL was his dream.
“I don’t think you get there if it wasn’t a big part of your life and a big goal to get to, so that part is rewarding,” he said.
Thirty-two years later, he still remembers the first time he stepped on the ice and how nervous he felt.
“There is a nerves issue. It all boils down to the game, sooner or later, and that you got to win the games,” he said.
“So hopefully as quickly as possible you turn that page and you just start thinking about the game, otherwise you’re not going to be effective and you might not get too many chances. But no, I remember a lot of nerves and nerves more than excitement.”
As an athlete, he focused on the game and didn’t pay a lot of attention to TV broadcasters.
“I tried to answer questions, I think I was accessible as much as, if not more than the other guy, but I really didn’t give any thought to the profession of broadcast.”
After eight NHL seasons, everything changed during a game against the Boston Bruins on March 10, 1988. Fox left the game with a season-ending knee injury.
At 27, Fox had to put his career on hold as he recovered from his injury.
It wasn’t until the following season that Fox could once again step on the ice.
After missing the entire 1988-89 season, Fox came back and played the next year. The first game back from his injury is something he will never forget.
“I remember that because it was probably more work there than to get to the NHL,” he said.
Fox expected everything would be back to normal. He was still young and healthy.
“Well when I missed a full season, I realized that it wasn’t that normal,” Fox said. “You realize how much you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. And it was gone.”
“As that season wore on, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to continue, but at least working for a full season off the ice and trying to rehab and get back that first game was memorable for me.”
That season proved to be his last in the NHL. He ended up playing only 11 games before retiring.
During the time Fox was sidelined with the injury, he did some TV work during games. At the time, the broadcast was simulcast on TV and radio. Bob Miller and Nick Nickson would throw down to Fox, who would give comments after each period.
After he retired from playing, Fox worked from 1990 to 1994 as the Kings’ director of community relations. He founded the Kings Care Foundation and many of its annual events, including Tip-A-King, an event where fans can meet their favorite players.
“I was working community relations at the time, never ever thought about that being a career or an opportunity. Never ever thought of it. I just was trying to help out. They asked me to help out, yeah no problem but I never ever thought about that.”
When he first started TV broadcasting, he was commentating on Kings games and on former teammates. It wasn’t always easy.
“It’s tough to criticize friends and people that you’re so close to,” Fox said. “As you get further and further away from your playing days I think the ability to be objective comes into it a little more.
“The good part about it is just still being around the game, still being able to travel with the team and still being able to watch great hockey,” he said.
In his free time, Fox, who is passionate about wine, enjoys studying about the different types and regions from where it’s made.
Last summer, Fox and his wife, Susie, traveled to Europe to celebrate their 30th anniversary by visiting different wine regions. They started their journey in Prague and from there, they visited northern Italy, the Douro River in Portugal, where the dessert wine Port is made; and a region in Spain called Rioja.
In March 2013, Fox will release his own wine under a label he created, turning his passion into a reality. The name of the label will be “Patiné Cellars.” He plans on a small production, about 100 cases in its first year.
“They rate wine, they give a number to wine, but it’s not like pro sports where there’s a final score at the end of the game. Wine is more intangible, intriguing, keeps you guessing, always waiting to taste that next great one,” he said. “I think that’s what I like about it, maybe because it differs from professional sports, which is always so finite—you look at the score and you have the result.”
Fox, who is prominent figure of the LA Kings Alumni Association Presented By Toyota, also hosted the second annual “Sunset Sip” on Sept. 20 at the Museum of Latin American Art. Some 200 guests attended and $67,000 was raised to benefit the Guidance Center. For more information on The Guidance Center log onto www.tgclb.org.
-- By Sarah Sotoodeh
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