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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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Published: Friday, 1/5/2001

Cancer costs decibels, but can't stop Miller

BY DAN SAEVIG
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

Notes and quotes from the East Coast Hockey League and other communities, wondering if the numerous burned-out lights on the often unreadable scoreboard clocks at the Sports Arena will be replaced before the season ends. How noticeable is it? During the second intermission of the Toledo Storm game Wednesday, one fan approached statistician Larry Hanudel and offered a 25 cent donation for new bulbs ...

It was no bigger than 1/10th the size of a dime, but that won't change anything.

Mike Miller has cancer.

The long-time radio play-by-play man for the Toledo Goaldiggers and current voice of the National Hockey League's New Jersey Devils, Miller begins seven consecutive weeks of radiation treatments early next week at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Doctors operated on the Temperance, Mich., resident Dec. 15, and cut a bump off his right vocal chord. The nodule had caused his voice to become raspy, making it difficult for the 48-year-old to call games for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Tests on the tissue immediately after removal confirmed cancer.

“It's not like they said, `Mike, you've got cancer, there's nothing we can do,'” Miller said.

Instead, doctors said that the cancer had not appeared to spread past the afflicted tissue. With radiation, they said, the success rate in similar cases is 90 percent.

It's possible, they added, that Miller could be back on NHL radio by March.

“When somebody tells you that you have cancer you feel very alone,” Miller said. “All of a sudden, you see people in a different light that have survived cancer.”

Jean Beliveau is one of those survivors.

The Hall-of-Famer who starred with the Montreal Canadiens called Miller last Saturday. The pair talked for 20 minutes.

“He told me what to expect with radiation,” Miller said. “He had a tumor in his neck a few years ago. He lost some weight and said it was tough but now he feels fine.”

Miller's also heard from former Goaldiggers' coach Peter Mahovlich, now a scout with the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers. Mahovlich is currently undergoing treament for a recurrence of prostate cancer. Another call came from a high school football coach in Romeo, Mich., who had the same problem Miller is facing, only his tumor was three times larger.

“He was screaming at me on the phone,” Miller said. “He said, `I wanted to give you an example of how strong your voice will be after the treatments.'”

While recuperating, Miller will continue to host his weekly hockey talk show, which airs Thursdays at 6 p.m. on WLQR (1470 AM).

He just won't be able to yell.

“You know what?” Miller said. “As tough as this is, it could be a lot worse.”

  • Hockey players and a good time go hand-in-hand.

    It may not be as noticeable now because of the focus on conditioning, but it sure was apparent back in the 1970's, when the cult movie Slap Shot was released. Back then, minor leaguers terrorized each other on the ice and then were often terrors away from the rink.

    Some raised the bar with their performance on the ice. Others just raised a glass with ice at the bar.

    Jeff Carlson, who starred in Slap Shot as Jeff Hanson - one of the three infamous goon brothers - admits that was the case when he played in the International and North American hockey leagues in places like Muskegon and Johnstown.

    “Back in those days, we used to party a little bit,” Carlson said with a laugh. “Like ... every day we had off.”



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