Monday, April 10, 2017

As Miller says goodbye, a piece of me goes with him

The following disclaimer is for those of you expecting me to take another trip around the world of racing. What I'm about to share here contains no mention of racing or racers whatsoever.

With that said, please stay and read the following tribute. My heart needs this moment because I'm all about more than just cars that go around in circles at insanely fast speeds.

I'm also about writing (hence this blog), plus the joy of broadcasting as well.

It was a sad time for me this weekend as legendary Los Angeles Kings play-by-play man Bob Miller hung up his headset after 44 amazing seasons and two Stanley Cups (2012, 2014). While most sports fans with any degree of knowledge may have seen Miller as the third wheel of voices for Los Angeles teams behind the late Chick Hearn (NBA's Lakers) and Vin Scully (Dodgers), his approach and style was basic, strong, and to the point.

First it was Scully that said goodbye last year, now Miller. The more things change, the more we need to celebrate what's left behind. In case you missed it (and you probably did), Miller got to call an overtime winner that helped the Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the home finale Saturday night.

For me, I have more than just Miller's voice on TV (and radio in simulcast in the earlier stages of his career) to thank. Bob Miller also taught me the challenges and joys of calling games of any sort through Sportscaster Camps of America, which was a two-day workshop I attended in Los Angeles in 1990 and 1991.

Yeah, I'm getting up there, too.

He was gracious, friendly, and always helpful. And I turned that knowledge into working as a print journalist. Funny how life works.

To that same end, my career as one of the ink-stained wretches took me to covering the San Jose Sharks for four years in the early 2000s. Miller received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame for his excellence in 2000, and I had the privilege of sitting down with him for an interview that I published as a tribute in the Vallejo (Calif.) Times-Herald the following season.

I can remember carrying several copies of the printed column I wrote and I did the handoff from our press perch at HP Pavilion to then-Kings PR man Mike Altieri (I could be wrong on the name). He had to pass them on because Miller wasn't able to attend that day's game against the Sharks due to prior family commitments.

I got a thank-you e-mail from Miller himself a few days after. He did my heart good, even if I went into print journalism instead of broadcasting.

That's part of why Sunday was a sad day. I choose to celebrate Bob Miller's excellence as a broadcaster, but more importantly as an all-around outstanding human being.

Miller is living proof that as long as you're living your dreams, you're guaranteed to never work a day in your life.

Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter @TommyZee81 or email

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