Gord Miller started in hometown

DAVE 'CRASH' CAMERON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:19 PM ET

The right place at the right time is always a key factor in getting the right job.

For TSN's Gord Miller, his dream gig as a sports broadcaster began right here in his hometown right as it was about to earn its wings as the City of Champions.

"I started in April '83 and the Oilers played the Islanders and lost the Stanley Cup final that spring. The following year they won the Cup," said Miller, in town last week as part of a TSN promotional tour, and shaking his head at the memory.

"I went to NAIT for about three months and left. To be on the air so quickly ... I would have just turned 19. And I looked like I was 10!

"When I got out of high school (Strathcona Comp) I was Percy Wickman's executive assistant at City Hall. I was the Trappers' PA announcer at night, I was the PA announcer for the Golden Bears and I was working at CBC on the weekends."

Ironically, TSN had just gone on the air and were about to scoop John Wells and Peter Watts away from CBC Edmonton.

"I had agreed to take a job in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and my boss, in May of '83, said to me, 'Don't take the job. Just sit tight and I'll find you something.' "

The right time.

With Wells and Watts gone CBC was "auditioning people all summer to take the place of John as the host of Hockey Night in Canada here and they hired Chris Cuthbert," said Miller.

"So they signed me to a series of six-week contracts. It went on for about a year and a half. I was on six-week contracts forever!

"And they were auditioning people, basically to replace me. So I'd be sitting in the sports office getting the show ready and I'd be watching these guys audition for my job," Miller said, laughing about it now.

"After a while the crew, I think, kind of got on my side, so they might mess with the guy a little bit, be a little slow with the teleprompter!

"They hired Chris and he had been working in Montreal. They needed someone who knew people in Edmonton ... and they kept me around."

The right place.

'LET'S GO TO THE BAR'

"It was Christmastime 1985 and my boss called me in and said we're going to give you a full-time job. He was a great guy named Dennis McBarish. Dennis said to me, "Let's go to the bar and do your contract.'

"He said 'You write down on a piece of paper what you think you should make and I'll write down what I think you should make. So I wrote down the princely sum of $28,000. And he gave me his sheet of paper and it said $38,000. He looked at me and said, "Split the difference and we go up to the bar?'

"I remember signing a contract for $33,000 and thinking I'd died and gone to heaven! I thought rich people made $33,000 a year."

The right price.

"It was a very rare chance. Just this unbelievable opportunity.

"I think it was a real confluence of events for the city and the team. They had all those young, single guys that were together, the city was really growing. Edmonton, really, in those years kind of matured and exploded. So it was a really exciting time.

"The Eskimos were winning Grey Cups, Kurt Browning was winning World Figure Skating championships, there was just all kinds of stuff going on. It was a unique time to be breaking into the business.

"You'd never be able to (fall into a job in that manner) again. That would never happen (in this business) that way again.

"I probably didn't deserve it. But they didn't have anyone else and I was willing to work. I mean I'd work morning, noon and night. I never complained. I worked Christmas Day."

Little did he know it wouldn't be the last time.

"Funny thing, I work every Christmas Day now, with the World junior (tournament.)"

GOING-AWAY PARTY

Miller was first contacted by TSN in 1988, he said, but decided to stay here a little longer. In 1990, he didn't say no a second time.

"I don't know, I just had this feeling that it was time."

The right feeling.

"Had a going-away party on a Friday night. Left for Toronto on Saturday, Miller added.

"I hosted a CFL game my second day (at TSN). Two weeks later, CBC announced massive layoffs. Even shut down the local station for awhile."

The right choice.


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