Kings' Royalty Sits in Media's Penalty Box, Thanks to Television

Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), May 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Kings' Royalty Sits in Media's Penalty Box, Thanks to Television


The puck drops, and Bob Miller and Jim Fox have nothing to say about it.

Their usual Staples Center mid-ice TV booth has been overtaken by a bunch of foreigners. A Canadian broadcast team, for cryin' out loud.

So to view Game 3 of the Kings' Western Conference semifinal series against St. Louis, Miller and Fox were kicked upstairs, wedged into the press box with the rest of the germ-carrying media types, those who sniffle to fight off another cold coming on or dab their noses to keep it from bleeding because of the altitude change above the 300-level section.

Seated about 100 yards apart from each other, Miller and Fox might as well have strung up a couple of tin cans to keep in contact and perhaps call the game for the rest of the die-hard fans sitting up that high.

Is this any way to treat L.A. hockey broadcast royalty?

They fully acknowledge this is all part of the deal, even if they're getting the wrong end of it. NBC seizes control of all NHL playoff telecasts after the first round, supposedly for the good of everyone involved.

It doesn't mean everyone's doing double salchows about it.

Kings fans already knocked off their Miller-Fox mooring are challenged to find their games somewhere on a tier of channels they'd never venture into unless they sought 401k advice or were into bull riding.

Tell us again what happened again during the first period of Game 3, while the preceding Philadelphia-New Jersey contest went on and on into overtime. Do we switch from NBC Sports Network to CNBC? Nope. To the NHL Network? Not as if we had that channel anyway ... which means today's game is on ... the NBC regular channel?

The Oprah Winfrey Network would be a better alternative at this point.

All the while Miller and Fox - the Hockey Hall of Fame play-by- play man and one of the Kings' all-time great right wingers who have been broadcast partners the last 20-plus seasons - are out of their element, present but absent at the same time. Detached until further notice.

Not as blue as 0-3 St. Louis, but not with a case of the blahs either. They're ready, willing and able to help anywhere needed.

It hardly was this way in 1993, when the Kings went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Miller and Fox called every game for Prime Ticket.

"The Kings are three wins away from the Stanley Cup!" Miller proclaimed after the Game 1 win at Montreal.

ESPN, the national network, didn't have exclusivity back then. A year later, when the New York Rangers went to the title, ESPN was blacked out again in their home market so the regional TV partners could stay on.

Taking the country's No. 1 and 2 TV markets out of the NHL finals two years in a row doesn't last long in the big picture, with a league that counts money for its greater cause.

It's brainlessly, business-minded backward, of course. Miller and Fox weaved the daily storyline in the regular season and got to do four games in the first round, but now with the franchise a game away from going to the Western Conference finals for the first time in nearly 20 years, they're in the media penalty box.

This happens in the MLB and NBA, too. It's just that the connection L.A. has to its local Hall of Fame broadcasters wasn't unplugged. The Dodgers make the playoffs and Vin Scully is back on radio (where he's the best anyway). When the Lakers made the playoffs in the past the late Chick Hearn, who did a simulcast anyway, just did radio.

When the Kings make the playoffs, Miller is a seat filler. …

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