Friday, February 28, 2014 (or March 28, 2014 if you read the Buffalo News), marked the end of an era in Buffalo. It was an era that a lot of people didn’t necessarily want to see end, but we knew was coming, even if we didn’t want to admit it.
Ryan Miller, is no longer the goalie for the Buffalo Sabres.
Miller has been haunted by trade rumors for the past 2 years. More so in the days leading up to his trade. However, like other fans, I heard the rumors of the Sabres trying to get Miller to renew his contract with the team. As I have been in the past, I remained a strong advocate for trading Miller. However, a voice in the back of my head still said “Renew that contract!” Now that he’s gone, I feel it’s a sad day for Buffalo.
Ryan Miller has been attached to the Buffalo Sabres franchise for almost 15 years. He was drafted in June 1999, and has stayed with the Sabres through several trying times. When he was drafted in 1999, everyone knew this was the goalie of the future once Hasek left. Miller began playing for the Amerks when the NHL was still allowing regular season games to end in a tie in 2002. I still remember his first few games in the NHL in 2002, and wondering why he was sent down after playing some solid games. He flirted with the NHL during the two seasons from 2002-2004, and then spent his next year in Rochester, standing on his head for the Amerks while the NHL remained locked out.
From 2005 until yesterday, Ryan Miller has indeed been the face of the franchise. Despite only making the playoffs 4 times in the past 9 seasons, he has been the reason that many individuals make the trip to HSBC Arena, and now the First Niagara Center, to watch the Sabres play. It seemed that almost every night, he did something electrifying that brought the Sabres faithful to their feet, no matter what the score is on the board. It is with a heavy heart that the fans of Buffalo received the news last night that their beloved goalie, was moving on in his career.
So why does this move impact us so much?
Ryan Miller wasn’t one of those players who came around and played decently. As I said before, for 9 years, he was the face of the Buffalo Sabres. When opponents faced the Sabres, no one ruled them out because of the man in between the pipes. Even now, with the franchise at one of it’s worst points in the history of the team, Ryan Miller has played his heart out. He never quit, or gave up. Miller’s win totals should be a lot higher right now for this season. However, despite his team losing every night it seems, he has managed to put together quite a season.
Ryan Miller made the fans of Buffalo forget about Dominic Hasek (with no disrespect to the Dominator). Miller came in, less than 5 years after Hasek had left, and showed the Sabres faithful that he was just as good, and has proven to be better. Miller leaves the Sabres with 49 more games played than Hasek, and 50 more wins, making him #1 in both those categories for the Sabres. For goalies with more than just 6 games played, Miller is 3rd overall in goals against average and 2nd in career save percentage. I consider that astonishing since Ryan Miller has faced more shots on goal than any other goalie in Sabres history. Ryan Miller has left a lasting impact on the Buffalo Sabres organization.
There are several players who are great NHL stars. However, very few of them actually stay with just one team. Ryan Miller has been with the Buffalo Sabres through the best and the worst of times. While the fans knew he was going to be moved, and probably wished that he wasn’t going to be, the Sabres organization pulled the trigger and shipped Miller Time to Anheuser-Busch (haha). I am reminded of the situation when Raymond Bourque was traded from Boston to Colorado. He went from a non-Stanley Cup caliber team to a serious Cup contender. Ryan Miller now has a serious shot to win the Cup in St. Louis, and I know several individuals, myself include, who want to see him get that Cup. Several people in Buffalo just became St. Louis Blues fans just because of this trade. I think that it’s great that Miller is getting a shot to win a Cup, and he certainly deserves it.
I am sure that several fans will continue to wear Miller jerseys, myself being one of them (even today). He is one of those players that will forever be attached to the Sabres franchise. Several of my nieces and nephews even have a Ryan Miller bib, and I look forward to the day when they ask me, “Who is Ryan Miller?”. I can explain it to them, and share the stories and memories that I have. While I know that I am lucky to be able to say “I saw Ryan Miller play with the Amerks and the Buffalo Sabres”, future generations will be saying, “I wish I could have seen Ryan Miller play.”
So that leaves us now with just the memories. However, more will be coming for him I am sure. I hope that no one else will don #30 in the Sabres blue and gold and take the ice for the team. Even Miller was sad to go, but I know that he will be back, if only for his jersey retirement. Everyone is waiting for the day that Hasek’s #39 is retired. There should be no question that Ryan Miller’s #30 should forever be hanging from the rafters of First Niagara Center.
So as Ryan Miller leaves Buffalo, I have one request of him. I hope that Miller gets a Stanley Cup, in fact, I hope he gets several as a member of the Blues franchise. I ask this, when it is time for you to retire, come home to Buffalo. Retire as a member of the Buffalo Sabres. It would mean a lot to the city, the franchise, and most of all, the fans.
That being said, it’s time to bring this to a close. I know that this is a new opportunity for Ryan Miller and while he is sad to go, as he demonstrated in his press conference last night, he is looking forward to a new opportunity. I could go on for hours about this, but instead, I end with this thought that I feel every Sabres fan is feeling today;
Good luck Ryan Miller, and thanks for the memories.
Now, I know I haven’t been on Twitter as much- @SabresBTB But I am trying to rectify that. It’s been a crazy few months here, culminating in me getting a new job. Hence the absence. I will try to be back on here for Sabres games, and continue to write more now that my schedule has calmed down.
As always, thanks for reading.