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The Sabres Observer

His Interview Changing Nothing, Miller Is As Good As Gone

"I would like to have at least some say in where I go just because Buffalo is all I've known and I have a life outside of that." - Ryan Miller

With all due respect to the optimists who are big fans of the man who has been the franchise goaltender and face of the Sabres for quite awhile, the above quote doesn't read like a guy who is "not closed off to the possibility" of playing in Buffalo beyond next season.

The netminder of the 2010 USA squad, the one that settled for a silver medal courtesy of Sidney Crosby and a few of his Canadian friends, had a lot to say in an NHL.com piece that came out yesterday, but nothing to alter the plans that the Sabres are making for their roster beyond 2013-14. 

Those plans still include Miller playing for a different team.

Not that you should care, but I'm ready and willing to take the heat for passing off speculation as opinion -- but we're not exactly talking about a slap shot in the dark here. 

Consider the Sabres rebuild, assuming they don't change their minds again and offer over 130 million dollars to a trio of aging free agent veterans, think of the emergence of Jhonas Enroth and reasonably high expectations for Matt Hackett, and throw in the minor detail of a beautiful wife/actress who is enhancing the Miller High Life with beach weather and schmoozing with Hollywood stars, and it's pretty clear where this is headed.

This season is a golden opportunity for the 33-year old.  As in Olympic gold.  And if you listen to his interview with E.J. Hradek closely enough, Olympic-themed setting notwithstanding, you might wonder if playing this season in Buffalo is almost an afterthought for him.

Think about it.  What do you honestly believe is more important to Miller right now: carrying an inexperienced Sabres team through a grinding struggle for one of the last couple of playoff spots, or avenging a gut-wrenching loss four years ago by leading his country to international hockey glory in front of the world and having a gold medal placed around his neck?

I wouldn't blame Miller one bit for thinking more about the latter.  He's put every ounce of heart and soul into this Buffalo franchise for a long time and was a driving force behind its success, back when there was such a thing.  But I'll bet the farm there are bigger things on his mind than the long term future of the Sabres.

Miller doesn't want to be a distraction the way Roberto Luongo was in Vancouver, and that's admirable.  That's why, over the coming months, you'll be hearing plenty of talk that hits the warm and fuzzy side of the public relations meter. 

But that doesn't erase the image of the man who appeared at the postgame Fan Appreciation ceremony as someone ready, perhaps eager, to accept his fate.  It doesn't lower his age on a team going with kids, and it doesn't change his personal situation and aspirations.

You can spin Miller's comments any way you like, but the signs are clearly there.  For my money, we're talking about a once-great goaltender who, in his own sophisticated and analytical mind, already has one skate out the door.

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Filed in: | The Sabres Observer | Permalink
  Tags: "olympic+hockey", "ryan+miller", "usa+hockey"

Comments

SYF's avatar

Miller’s contract, according to capgeek.com, allows him to provide a list of eight teams to which he does not want to be traded.

At one point, I was open to the idea of him in a Wings sweater.  With Howard, not anymore.  ANA has Hiller.  SJS has Niemi.  LAK has Quick.  All bona fide starters.  The only West Coast team that has a chance is PHX, but even they’re committed to Smith in this transition period with the new owners’ eye on operating costs for the next several years.

I don’t know.  Unless SJS pulls the trigger and trades Niemi to BUF for Miller…

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 08/27/13 at 01:38 PM ET

Avatar

The only other scenarios that might facilitate a move west is a significant injury to one of the starters you mention, or Luongo eventually being traded.  Dallas isn’t exactly west coast, but KL has had many injury troubles, so the Stars might be another option at some point.

Posted by cantskate on 08/27/13 at 03:02 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

Barring injury, Miller will probably have a new home by the deadline, and if his stock increases in the Olympics he could get a good return.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 08/27/13 at 03:54 PM ET

Chuckytee's avatar

I have 2 things to say/ask about Miller. How good is he or was? What realistic trade value does he have?
1st, has he won any big games, you know, the ones that matter? NONe! True isn’t it? Olympics were the best he did and got the team to a 2nd place finish, not a win! In a trade, no 1st round picks will be given for him, high salary stops that. Players? Who or how many will be determined by the team that will trade with us. Darcy takes too long to decide and he over values trade prospects! So that leaves us with keeping him, right? All in all, any kind of deal has zero to no chance of getting done. Resulting in Miller still a Sabre!! Too bad for us. All I wrote is my opinion, not a statement of FACT ( I had too add that for the haters and the immature posters). Because I differ on most of Miller fans, I expect being called original bad names such as “your stupid” or “you are an idiot” haters need to insult with better crap, old and over used words are no damn good!!

Posted by Chuckytee on 08/28/13 at 12:41 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

Operative words in the post are ‘beyond next season’ - though I agree it is confusing whether Dave is saying Miller leaving after/during this season is inevitable or whether he’s saying he’s already played his last game as a sabre.

As I said above, I don’t think he has any value before the deadline and unless things turn around for the Sabres, they should be looking to trade him then (or lose him for nothing). There would have to be a playoff team with a real hole in goaltending to give up a first rounder for him as a rental. Fans may have to lower their expectations and remember that the alternative was to lose him for nothing this off season.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 08/28/13 at 01:57 PM ET

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

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Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]