Buffalo Sabres’ Goaltender Ryan Miller: Everybody Loves Ryan


With the 2010-11 NHL season in full swing, it is never too early to examine some of the NHL’s best and what makes them so.

Sports is often like high school: There are people you love, people you hate and people that are just there.  Just like those friends that made high school special, there are certain athletes that have that special quality that makes them endearing, even to rival fans.  

Ryan Miller is certainly one of those players. 

First, as an athlete, he is arguable the best goaltender in the NHL.  This 2009-10 Vezina Trophy winner was still in the womb when the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team pulled off their miracle on ice in Lake Placid, NY, not too far from Ryan’s present home in Buffalo.  Yet his heart and love for the game is reminiscent of another goalie that the nation fell in love with that cold winter 30 years ago, Jim Craig.

As fate would have it, Miller would follow in Craig’s crease 30 years later as he lead the US Olympic Hockey Team to a Silver medal in Vancouver this past February.  As many in the hockey world will tell you, it was the Olympics that showcased Miller to many American hockey fans and his performance in British Columbia was one that hockey fans fondly remembered once the NHL season picked up again after the February Olympic break.

On March 3rd,  the first game after the Olympic break, during player introductions in Pittsburgh (nope – not a typo), fans gave Miller a standing ovation in honor of his Olympic performance.  Even on that day, the US fans were more than willing to put NHL team loyalties aside in the name of the red, white and blue. 

Miller was born in East Lansing, Michigan into what can only be described as a hockey family.   His brother Drew, four years his junior, is presently a winger with the Detroit Red Wings and both brothers can boast three cousins on the Miller side who also played in the NHL.  To say that hockey is in this family’s blood would be an understatement.

In youth hockey Ryan started out as a forward and after winning a bet with his father, who was also his coach at the time, Miller moved to goal and, thankfully for Sabres fans, has been there ever since.  

While in goal for Michigan State Miller began compiling impressive accolades. After setting an NCAA record with 26 shutouts in his collegiate career he also was awarded the Hobey Baker Award (2001) for having lead the nation in wins, winning percentage, save percentage, goals-against average and shutouts. 

After three years at Michigan State, Miller joined the AHL’s Rochester Americans and has spent his entire professional career in Western New York State eventually earning the starting goaltender position for the Buffalo Sabres at the end of the 2005-06 NHL season. 

Often soft spoken and controlled yet, when need be, Miller can effectively be like a lion just let out of a cage. His strong words after the boarding penalty that put fellow Sabre Jason Pominville out of commission for a few weeks last month got a lot of media attention.

Why? For the simple fact that when Miller speaks out passionately about something, people listen. 

Off the ice, Miller is just as effective at making a statement.  In 2006 Miller established The Steadfast Foundation to assist children suffering from various forms of cancer after being directly affected by his cousin Matt’s battle with the disease.  Matt sadly passed away after complications from bone-marrow surgery at the beginning of the 2007-2008 NHL season.  

Today, Miller works tirelessly with his foundation and the events that their organization sponsors are simply amazing.

On November 21st, the 5th Annual Catwalk for Charity will take place featuring Miller and his fellow Sabres dressed in 70s and 80s garb participating in a fashion show of sorts all in the name of The Steadfast Foundation.  

Aside from receiving the Vezina Trophy this past season, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that the other award he was presented, the NHL Foundation Player Award, for his work in the community, is the most coveted of the two.

He continues to honor his cousin with the words “Matt Man” displayed on his goaltending helmet and something tells me that he always will.

He is a class act, a great role model for kids and with his unique grace and always giving his best both on and off the ice; it is no real surprise that everybody loves Ryan. 

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...