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Broadcaster Bob Miller enters last weekend with Kings

After 44 years with Los Angeles, 78-year-old will retire following conclusion of regular season

by Dan Arritt / Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Bob Miller will call his last game at Staples Center on Saturday when he begins the final weekend of a 57-year broadcasting career, including 44 years with the Los Angeles Kings.

The Kings host the Chicago Blackhawks (6 p.m. ET; FS-W, CSN-CH, NHL.TV) in a game that has no Stanley Cup Playoff importance; Los Angeles has been eliminated from contention and the Blackhawks have locked up the No. 1 seed from the Western Conference. But it will be very meaningful to the Kings organization and Southern California, which has also seen legendary broadcasters Vin Scully and Dick Enberg retire in the past year.

"In Los Angeles, we've been very fortunate with the voices we've had," Kings president of business operations Luc Robitaille said. "For us, and all hockey fans, and especially the Kings fans that have so much passion, we've had Bob for 44 years. What a team, what a line."

Tweet from @LAKings: This is for you, LA Kings fans. #ThankYouBob

Growing up in Chicago, Miller thought he was on a path toward becoming a major league baseball player, even playing two years at the University of Iowa.

"My baseball future was decided one day at Iowa in an intrasquad game, facing our best pitcher, a guy named Bob Pearl," Miller said. "I got a solid line-drive base hit to left field. Hit it real good and I was on first base, really feeling good about myself, and I heard our coach holler, 'Pearl, how could you let him get a hit?' And I knew, I think, that this career is coming to an end."

Miller, 78, began covering football and basketball games for the campus station, KRUI-FM, before graduating from Iowa in 1960. He continued sports broadcasting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, announcing his first hockey game in 1968. Miller joined the Kings in 1973.

Early on, Miller had to deal with the hands-on style of owner Jack Kent Cooke, but the team was competitive, reaching the playoffs in nine straight seasons from 1974-82. Wayne Gretzky's arrival in 1988 brought renewed interest in the Kings, capped by the organization's first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993. But they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in five games, and Miller called one playoff series win during the next 17 seasons.

However, after 39 years, Miller was in the booth when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup in 2012, defeating the New Jersey Devils in six games.

"It was just a magical moment to know that we had finally won the Cup," Miller said. "Going home, I said to [my wife] Judy at one of the parties we went to, 'Are we going to go to every one of these Stanley Cup parties?' She said, 'Of course we are. We may never see this again.' Two years later, we saw it again." 

Miller had major heart surgery in February 2016 and had a setback in May but returned to the broadcast booth at the start of this season. However, Miller had a stroke on Jan. 28, hours before he was scheduled to work the live broadcast of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition and was taken from Staples Center in an ambulance.

Video: Tribute for the retiring Bob Miller

Doctors recommended that Miller retire from full-time broadcasting.

"This is not the way I wanted it to work out. I really wanted to finish all of the games this season," said Miller, who took a reduced workload this season.

Miller will announce his final game when the Kings play at the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

"There is some stress doing the play-by-play and, I think, sometimes you don't realize it when you're doing it," he said. "The game is exciting. You want to see them win, you want to see them come from behind to win, and there are times when I would say to myself, 'Where would I rather be than right here doing this game?' And that's the way I felt, and I still got excited about live TV."

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