Friday, March 12, 2010

Miller Named TEAM Radio Broadcaster Of The Year:

Vernon's Miller named TEAM Radio Broadcaster of the Year

Thursday, March 11, 2010 - Submitted by Chad Klassen

There’s no happier man in Junior A hockey right now than Vernon Vipers broadcaster Todd Miller. He’s the play-by-play voice for one of the country’s premiere franchises and was recently recognized as the TEAM Radio BCHL Broadcaster of the Year.

“It’s obviously exciting and great to be recognized with a great award," says Miller, who is hoping to call another long Vipers postseason run in the coming weeks. "There are a lot of good broadcasters in this league that could have easily won this award.”

For a kid who didn’t play the game growing up, Miller's 16-year journey through the BCHL has been a dream come true. The pinnacle of that experience came last spring when Miller had the opportunity to follow Vernon’s run to Fred Page and RBC Cup titles. It was a career highlight that will be difficult to top.

Miller has been blessed to witness no shortage of winning hockey in recent seasons, which stands in stark contrast to a stretch of tough years with a struggling Merritt Centennials franchise early in his career. The Vipers have made the playoffs in all seven years that he has been part of the organization and have won three Interior Conference regular season titles, including back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.

“I’ve put in a lot of time throughout my career and I’ve spent some time and seen some years where the teams I’ve called haven’t been extremely competitive. It’s exciting to be with a team and a franchise that, as a whole, is putting a competitive product on the ice,” says Miller. “ I think anyone would tell you watching your team, and the team you call, win more often than not it’s going to make it more fun to broadcast."

But for all the success that’s come his way, Miller's experience in the broadcast booth hasn’t always been a smooth one. Prior to his arrival in Vernon, he spent nine seasons in Merritt serving as the team’s colour commentator during the 1994/95 and 1995/96 campaigns before taking over the play-by-play duties. That franchise provided more than its fair share of losing seasons – six of them, in fact, in the mid-1990s when Miller was a part of the Cents organization.

However, while there have been some lean years for Miller, the two seasons of winning hockey he was privileged to experience in Merritt provide him with great memories.

“Obviously we had some tough years, but we also had some very good times. 2001 is one of my better memories calling BCHL hockey. That was the year that an underdog Centennials squad made its way to the B.C. Hockey League Finals and played an unbelievable seven-game series with Victoria,” he remembers.

Following a nine-year run with the Centennials, an opportunity with the Vipers popped up in 2003. It was one Miller couldn’t possibly pass up, and he’s been the lead broadcaster for the club ever since. But amazingly, his talents extend beyond being a great play-by-play broadcaster. You could say that the TEAM Radio Broadcaster of the Year is a modern day jack-of-all-trades.

Miller is Vernon’s business manager by day before he puts on the headset on game nights. He takes care of all the team’s accounting and is responsible for much of the Vipers' advertising revenues, which fill his summer months building business relationship in the community.

“I take pride in everything I do,” he says. “One of my goals in coming to Vernon was trying to get involved as much as possible and contribute to the day-to-day operations of the team.”

One of the many things Miller prides himself on is bringing a sense of reality to fans listening to make them feel like they’re in the stands. It’s something Miller appreciated as a kid listening to the Vancouver Canucks' radio broadcasts.

“For me, it’s trying to bring the excitement of the game to the listener,” he says. “I grew up listening to guys like Jim Robson and Jim Hughson, and one thing that always amazed me was the fact that I could lay there with my eyes closed and visualize the game. If it’s exciting game or there’s lots of exciting things happening, you want to bring that excitement through your radio and through your broadcast."

Coupled with his admiration for Robson and Hughson as play-by-play broadcasters, inspiration in the game of hockey stemmed largely from his uncle, Rob Schick, who was a referee in the National Hockey League for 24 seasons until he retired last season.

“I wasn’t a player as a young child, so for me being involved in hockey was always a lifelong dream. It was just a case of, ‘how do I get involved in the game while putting my skills to work?’ One of the reasons I got involved in broadcasting was because I felt this is way I could be involved in hockey.”

As for the future, Miller still holds out hope of one day broadcasting an NHL game. But he’s more than content with his role calling Vipers hockey, especially on the heels of last season’s rush.

“Is the NHL still in my dreams? Of course it is. I don’t think that will ever leave anybody, but I can tell you that it would take a really good opportunity for me to move away from Vernon. I think [Vipers owner] Duncan Wray has shown me a lot over the last couple years. He’s a fantastic owner and a fantastic guy to work for.”

For now, the focus turns to the Fred Page Cup playoffs for the veteran broadcaster. He can only hope the Vipers serve up another enchanted run to the National Championship for both him and his listeners.

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