Bob Miller may be one of Los Angeles' best-kept sports secrets. A Hall of Fame broadcaster who’s been the voice of the Los Angeles Kings since 1973, Miller is part of L.A.’s holy trinity of sportscasters alongside the Dodgers' now-retired Vin Scully and the late Lakers legend Chick Hearn. But given hockey's up-and-down status in L.A. over the years, Miller didn't always share the spotlight Scully and Hearn got.
Over the decades, the Kings have had seasons good and bad, but the talent of their play-by-play man has never been in doubt. "He shoots … he scores!" Miller would cry, whether it was Marcel Dionne putting the puck in the net in the '70s and '80s, Wayne Gretzky setting career records in the '80s and '90s, or the teams of 2012 and 2014 making their way to Stanley Cup championships.
"There were seasons when, quite frankly, we knew the Kings had no chance," Miller wrote in an essay for The Times that explored his thoughts on the team's 2012 run and his emotions about not being allowed to call the Cup-winning games live because of the NHL's TV contract. "There were times when we were on a different radio station every year and people would tell me they couldn't get the signal. I'd think, 'Is anybody listening?' That's what made this playoff run so amazing."
Miller has long called the game as he sees it, and sometimes that means criticizing the team for which he works. Yet he has remained a genial presence on the air and in person, with a love for telling humorous stories. Most of them involve Kings players and the team's history under owners such as the flamboyant Jack Kent Cooke and, later, Bruce McNall, the man who traded for Gretzky but ended up in prison nearly five years for bank fraud. Miller’s stories were collected in the 2006 book "Bob Miller's Tales From the Los Angeles Kings" and in a 2013 follow-up.
The recipient of numerous broadcasting awards, Miller was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in 2000. The Chicago native also has accumulated several Hollywood credits, including work in movies such as "The Mighty Ducks" and its sequel, and the 1975 flick "Rollerball." In 2014, he was the star of the documentary "Voice of the King," which examines Miller’s career, his longtime marriage to his wife, Judy, and his semi-secret passion for country music.
In February 2016, Miller underwent quadruple bypass surgery, forcing him to miss much of the 2015-2016 season. He returned to the broadcast booth eight months later, albeit with a reduced schedule that cut out some travel. During the NHL All-Star game festivities in L.A. in late January 2017, he suffered a mild stroke.
Before those health problems sidelined him, Miller talked with The Times' Helene Elliott in 2013 about what has kept him coming back.
"I've thought more about how long I'm going to keep doing this in the last couple of years than I ever have before," Miller said. "Sometimes on the road there's things that go on and you think, 'Do I still want to be traveling around and staying in hotel rooms and everything like that?' And yet I get to the games and certain games you just think, 'What would I rather be doing than this?' ''