Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- Ryan Miller and his teammates arrived at the arena on Wednesday to get their physicals and testing. On ice practice begins on Thursday.
Miller of course comes in with just one year left on his contract. Despite that he’s still happy to be here, “It’s good to be back and absolutely ready to go.” Miller added, “I’m happy to be here. I have a great connection with the city and have enjoyed my time here so I’m just looking forward to getting started.”
Miller said in April that he didn’t know what the future held and even if there would be a market for him as far as trades go. The goaltender said, “Just looking at the environment and the landscape of the business side of things, the cap changed and I didn’t really go into great detail and I don’t think we’ll ever go into great detail, but Darcy has to build a team and maybe he feels like he wants me here.”
Of course Miller was asked if there had been discussions on an extension. Miller said, “No, not recently.” As far as if he ever asked for a trade he said, “No, we were just trying to see how things were going to play out. We knew there was a possibility of it out there, but there wasn’t really a need to go out there and say anything because I really didn’t know if it was the best thing for me anyways.”
There’s worry out there that if Miller is still here and unsigned to an extension, that it will affect his play. Miller said, “If you play long enough you’re going to have to have this kind of discussions around you some time, so it’s nothing I would not expect at some time in my career and I have to be professional enough to just do the job.”
Miller’s been in Western New York for 11 years and he’s not unhappy he’s still going to be spending another season here, “I’m able to do a job in a city I’m familiar with and very much at home. I like to be in Buffalo, I like the people, so this isn’t a bad situation.”
When Ryan Miller sold his townhouse after the season, many took that to mean that even he thinks he’s gone. Miller said, “I’m renting this year. The sale of the place played out a little differently than I thought it would. People are either going to believe this or they’re not, I’ve watched a lot of guys in this town sit on their residence after they’ve left town for a couple of years. After I got married I decided at a certain point, that house wasn’t going to be good enough for a family. I identified a time when I wanted to sell it and it was going to be in the last year of my deal, so I didn’t get stuck with it and the way it worked out it does look like, ‘OK, I’m out of here’.” Miller added, People are going to believe it or they’re not going to believe it, but I thought it was a smart business decision to at least have it on the market in the last year of my deal so I didn’t get lowballed. The way it played out I just had to laugh to myself and say this is not going to be looking good to the people of Buffalo. I’m not racing out of town, but I understand how it looks.”
The other thing that made people believe that Miller was gone was how he waived to the crowd after the final game. Miller said, “I didn’t want to risk it. It’s the last game, we weren’t going to go to the playoffs, it was my 500th game. There was a lot of speculation around that I might not be able to play in this arena again as a Sabre. I’ve enjoyed all my time here and I just didn’t want to risk leaving town without having the chance to just at least waive a few times and know how I felt.”
Thomas Vanek said he does not want a contract extension now because he wants to see how the team plays. Miller said, “I’m not going to close off anything. It is a chance to see how things go. I think they want to see how things go as well. They have a chance to see if we all fit together or if we fit into a longer term plan and that’s part of the business and it’s also part of the business to see if it works for us as well.”
One of the reasons Miller hasn't closed the door to an extension is what he’s already seen, “I do like the energy. I do like the attention to detail so far and I do feel like it’s an opportunity to get a group of players to really feel for each other and play for each other and if we do it the right way, it can definitely be a good situation.”
Miller has been back for about a week and he says fans have been very positive with him, “Everybody’s been very kind and happy to have me back and I feel the same way. This is my 12th year. I’ve been here a fairly long time. I really do like this area a lot. The people have always been great and is nice to hear that from people. There was a lot of frustration last year with the fan base and I think that’s a difficult thing to deal with. They’re losing a little bit of patience, but I think that you start to see a situation here where you can build something good and you can build something that’s going to last and that’s what I want to be a part of. If this is the last season where I can make a difference or if it’s going to continue moving forward, I just want to make sure I’m a positive influence on this team and that Buffalo has a foundation to build success on in the future because I do care about this area and the people and I do believe they deserve to be cheering for a team deep into June and my hope is we can do that this year.”
The team hits the ice Thursday at 8:45 in the arena with some players practicing. A scrimmage game is set for 11:15 until noon. It’s all open to the public.