Kings' Hockey Fest: All telecasts to be in HD this season
It's always a pleasure to listen to Kings TV broadcaster Bob Miller tell stories about the team's early days, but his "One-Man Show" at Sunday's Hockey Fest was made even more enjoyable when he let it slip that all of the team's 65 telecasts next season will be available in HD.
The Kings had only 10 HD games last season, which was unfortunate because HD probably benefits hockey more than any other sport. The club had planned to make the announcement this week, but Miller made it as he wrapped up his entertaining, hour-plus show.
"We applaud our partners at Fox Sports West for making this commitment," said Mike Altieri, the Kings' vice president for communications and broadcasting. "This is great news for Kings fans and all hockey fans in general."
Miller, who will start his 37th season in October -- shortly before he celebrates his 71st birthday -- was in fine form Sunday. He pulled out some familiar stories about Jack Kent Cooke, the imperious and quirky mogul who was the club's first owner, but his storytelling skills made them all fresh.
Cooke "wanted every game for us to talk about Kings season tickets. Nothing's changed, I guess," he said, drawing a laugh. When the Kings secured Datsun as a sponsor, he said, Cooke insisted that he work the sponsor name into the play-by-play.
"You will say, 'There's Marcel Dionne scooting down the ice like a Datsun,' " Miller said, deepening his voice to sound like Cooke.
When he objected, he said, Cooke went ballistic. "He said, 'I'm sick and tired of your attitude. Do you know how many people want your job and are this close to having it?' " Miller recalled.
He then played a clip of Cooke, prefacing it by saying the audio was missing. "His lips are moving but there's no sound, which is the way we would have preferred it," Miller said.
He also shared anecdotes about playoff games and plane trips and about the night that a shot by Jerry (King Kong) Korab sailed over the glass and struck a female fan on the forehead. Miller said he feared the fan had been seriously hurt when he saw her hands immediately reach for her head.
"It turned out the shot had knocked her wig off and she was covering her head," Miller said. "The next thing I know, they were passing her wig down the rows."
Showing clips of past playoff games -- would any King gathering be complete without a replay of the Miracle on Manchester? -- reminded Miller of how much he enjoys calling postseason games. Of course, the Kings haven't made the playoffs since 2002, so he hasn't had the chance lately.
But he's ever hopeful and has no plans to retire.
"Every year about this time, late August and September, I get excited about the season starting. I still feel good and I still feel that I can do the job," he said.
"There's going to come a time where either in my mind I say I'm not able to keep up with this sport or I'm making mistakes that I shouldn't be making, or I have the feeling that I really wish the season wasn't starting. And that would be the time to say, 'OK, that's it. I've had enough.' Right now, this is the last year of my contract but they've said it's a lifetime contract. We'll find out whose lifetime."
We'll wrap things up a little later from the first -- but not the last -- Hockey Fest.
-- Helene Elliott