NHL Ducks Goaltender Ryan Miller announced on Thursday, Apr. 29, 2021 that he is retiring from the league after this season. Miller will finish his career 14th on the NHL‘s all-time wins list. He also ranks 19th in games played with 794 and 18th in minutes at 46,023 and 34 seconds.
Ryan Miller was born on July 17, 1980 in East Lansing, Michigan to parents Dean and Teresa Miller. He grew up in a big hockey family, as his cousins all played as well as his little brother Drew. The entire family made it to the NHL and enjoyed long careers making a living out of playing the sport they loved; hockey. The 40-year-old netminder played his youth hockey in California, where he originally started as a forward. Upset with the play of his goaltender, he begged his coach and his father to let him try to play goalie. There was one condition though. Miller was told by his father that if he could earn 2 goals and 3 assists in his next game, he would buy him a catching glove. Miller met his “goal” with flying colors and the team won the game too! And that was the beginning of the goaltender’s brilliant career in hockey.
Miller attended Michigan State University where he set numerous NCAA Division I goaltending records as a member of the Spartans. He set a record with 26-career shutouts and won the Hobey Baker Award in 2001 as the NCAA‘s best player. During that season, he led the country in wins, winning percentage, and had a save percentage of .950. He also set records for the least goals against average (GAA) and compiled 10 shutouts.
Buffalo Sabres (2002-2014)
After a three-year stint with the Michigan State Spartans, Miller then joined the AHL, playing for the Buffalo Sabres farm club, The Rochester Americans (Amerks). He played there in Rochester from 2002 until 2005. Miller played in 15-regular season games for the Sabres in his rookie season. The 2004-2005 NHL season was locked out, so Miller won 41-games with the Amerks, tying Gerry Cheevers’ record. The Amerks won the North Division and the championship game, but lost in the division finals to the Manitoba Moose in the Calder Cup playoffs.
In the 2005-2006 season, the NHL officially opened back up, with some new rules and regulations that would change the way hockey would be played. Miller would establish himself as the Sabres starting goaltender, and among one of the best in the NHL. He was ranked 11th among goalies with a 2.60 GAA and 9th in save percentage with .914. He had the most wins in the Sabres season history (41) and the franchise history (284). Miller won 30-games for Buffalo and the team made it to the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals. Miller also started in goal in the first ever Winter Classic Outdoor Hockey game At Ralph Wilson Stadium against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After signing a three-year extension on Sept. 8, 2006, Miller and the Sabres got off to a hot start, going 10-0-0, before losing in a shootout 4-3 to the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets). His success led him to his first All-Star game appearance in 2007, and he was the starting goaltender for the Eastern Conference team. In the 2006-2007 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Sabres were eliminated in the Eastern Conference finals 4 games to 1 to the Ottawa Senators led by Daniel Alfredsson and Danny Heatley. Miller would make the USA Olympic team in 2010 as the starting goaltender, where he would earn a silver medal in a 3-2 overtime loss to Canada. He made it again in 2014, but the USA team failed to earn any medals and finished in fourth-place. Miller’s career would come to the end with the Sabre’s on Feb. 28, 2014 as he and forward Steve Ott were traded to the St. Louis Blues for Jaroslav Halak, William Carrier, and two-future draft picks.
St. Louis Blues (2014)
On Mar. 3, 2014, Miller and Ott would make their debuts with the Blues. Miller made 23-saves in a 4-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes (now the Arizona Coyotes). St. Louis would be knocked-out in the first-round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs to the defending 2013 Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks. Miller was not resigned by the Blues after the season as the team signed Brian Elliot on May 19.
Vancouver Canucks (2014-2017)
On July 1, 2014, Miller signed a three-year, $18-million contract as a free-agent to be the Vancouver Canucks starting goaltender. In a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 28, Miller became the 30th goaltender in NHL history to reach 300 wins, recording 29 saves on 30-shot attempts. A scary situation on Feb. 22 occurred for Miller as he was injured after Jannik Hansen crashed into him ending his night as the starting goaltender. He would go on to miss the next 21 games, and on the 22nd game, he returned to start the regular season finale.
Anaheim Ducks (2017-2021)
Miller left to become a free agent after his three-year contract expired with the Canucks. He signed with the Anaheim Ducks on Jul. 1, 2017. He began the 2017-2018 season on injured-reserve due to a lingering wrist injury. On Oct. 29, 2017, Miller made his debut with the Ducks in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. On Jun. 20, 2019, Miller was re-signed by the Ducks to return for a third-season with the club, agreeing to a one-year $2.24 million contract extension. On Dec. 23, 2020, Miller was re-signed to a one-year contract and then on Apr. 29, 2021, Miller announced his retirement after this season.
Praise from Around the NHL
Miller left a positive legacy on the game of hockey, and inspired so many people and other hockey personnel, including Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan. Even though his team lost to Miller and the Ducks which led to Miller’s 391st career victory, McLellan talked about the goaltender and his impact on the game of hockey. He quoted, “He’s meant an incredible amount to the sport of hockey, especially in the U.S. “When he entered the league, hockey was obviously big, but the number of quality goaltenders that are turning out in the U.S. now [is] due, I think, in large part to his success, his participation, his willingness to give himself to his country.”
The Anaheim Ducks owners also weighed in on Miller’s impressive career and had this to say, “Congratulations to Ryan on a storied career. You inspired us with your charitable work throughout your 18-NHL seasons. We are so proud to say the winningest American-born goaltender in NHL history set the record while playing for the Ducks. Congratulations on a fabulous career,” they said.
And it goes without saying…
IT’LL ALWAYS BE MILLER TIME IN BUFFALO, Fans!
It’ll always be Miller Time in Buffalo.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 29, 2021