Bob Miller has left the building.
After 44 years as the voice of the Los Angeles Kings, legendary broadcaster Bob Miller said goodbye to Staples Center for the final time.
Thankfully, the team said farewell in the most fantastic and fitting way possible.
Dustin Brown scored the game-tying goal with 55 seconds remaining in the game and Drew Doughty won it in overtime as the Los Angeles Kings shocked the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, in Miller's final home game as broadcaster for the Kings.
"Dustin Brown gave me the cup [when the team first won the Stanley Cup in 2012], we [Jim Fox] had mentioned the perfect scenario would be for Dustin Brown to get the game-winning goal," said Miller of the exciting finale to the game. "Well, he didn't get the game-winner, but he got the game-tying goal, so to see it end that way was nice. It was a great day for me."
Normally, the last home game of the season is "Fan Appreciation Day," but in honor of Bob, the Kings hosted that day on Thursday night, and made Saturday's finale at Staples Center, "Bob Miller Appreciation Day."
Fans gathered outside Staples Center hours before the game to honor the longtime play-by-play announcer for the Kings. A fan festival honoring Bob included games, "Thank You Bob" banners, and a 20-foot "Signature Wall," that allowed fans to leave personal messages to the Hall of Fame announcer.
"I didn't even know what was going on outside until I saw it on the broadcast," said Miller of the pregame festivities. "That autograph wall, is that going to fit in the back of my SUV?"
Most people knew this day was coming. Miller has known for a while, ever since he suffered a mild stroke on January 28, just hours before he was set to call the NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Staples Center.
Four weeks later, he announced his retirement in an emotional press conference with his wife, Judy. Despite the fact that we all knew Miller's time in the broadcast booth was coming to end, it still leaves and empty feeling in our hearts and minds.
The voids when legends such as Miller or the Dodgers' Vin Scully, walk away from their craft is vast, like an empty house which no human feet have walked. Never again will we hear the voice of the person whose stories and calls ran through our lives like a swift wind. The only solitude is that their imprints will live on forever, for legacies are never forgotten.
"It's the right time," said Miller after the game speaking with the media for the final time. "I'm ready for this. There comes a time when you just know, 'I've done this long enough.'"
If it indeed is the right time, then the Kings and their fans picked the perfect ending to a fairytale career. Miller's final home game of his career was not just special, it was surreal, a send-off for the ages.
"The most gratifying thing for me was to see the game end this way, to see the Kings comeback and win in overtime," said Miller. "My first game I ever did was October 10, 1973 against the Blackhawks at the forum. They were also my favorite team growing up. No. 73 Toffoli scores the first goal, it was special."
Special may be an understatement. Serendipitous is more appropriate, and eerily similar to Scully's final call at Dodger Stadium last September when Corey Seager tied the game with a home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and then Charlie Culberson gave the Dodgers a walk-off win that clinched the N.L. West in the bottom of the 10th.
"It was almost like the home run at Dodger Stadium on Vin Scully's final call," said Miller of the similarities between the two broadcasters' final game. "Vin had some very nice comments and invited me to get together with him, so now we'll have something to talk about."
Scully recorded a farewell message to Miller that was played on the videoboard during the game, and wished him well in retirement.
Miller still isn't sure what his plans for the future are, but he will definitely take a vacation and travel with his family.
Meanwhile, the Kings are just one game away from vacation themselves as they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year for the second time in the last three seasons. Their final game will be in Anaheim tomorrow against the Ducks, so they were definitely happy to send Miller off the right way in his last game at Staples Center.
"Obviously, Bob Miller has been a big part of this organization for a long time," said Defenseman Drew Doughty, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime. "To a win for him and the team and for the fans as well it feels good."
His teammate, and captain, Anze Kopitar, agreed:
"I thought the emotions were a big higher because it was Bob's last home game," said Kopitar. "We wanted to get the win regardless, obviously. I think we played a pretty solid game. That's not what you want to do—give up a goal with six minutes left, but we did it in Kings fashion, to finish it up in OT."
The City of Angels have had to say goodbye to a lot of legends in the last year. First it was Kobe Bryant who walked out of Staples Center after a 60-point finishing touch on his career. The Mamba's finale was followed by Vin Scully's farewell at Dodger Stadium as he walked away from the booth after 68 historic years behind the microphone. On Saturday, it was Miller's turn.
Like the legends before him, fans will say, "There will never be another Bob Miller." This is because we were raised by his voice, and will always remember where we were when we heard, "The Los Angeles Kings are indeed the Kings of the National Hockey League," in 2012 and "Royalty Reigns Again in the National Hockey League," in 2014.
We measure greatness not by statistics or singular achievements, but with our eyes and ears, and moreover, our hearts. Miller's legacy will not just be his baritone voice as he told the stories of L.A.'s hockey legends, but the way he treated the fans who hung on his every word.
I was one of those fans, as I assume so many of you were as well. So it's with tremendous gratitude and appreciation that we say, congratulations, Bob. You have ascended the thrown and now you can sit back and watch with your place among the greats solidified forever.