The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 08/27/13 at 12:30 PM ET
"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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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.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]