The 541st regular season game in Ryan Miller’s NHL career came Sunday night. And for the first time he stepped on the ice without a Buffalo Sabres jersey on.
Two days after the blockbuster trade that shook the hockey world, it was time for Miller to take his position at a place where he feels most comfortable: between the pipes.
Miller was traded Friday from Buffalo to St. Louis with their captain Steve Ott for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a conditional 2014 third-round pick.
The landscape for the cellar-dwellers in the NHL has forever changed, as their franchise goalie for more than a decade is off to another team.
St. Louis on the other hand, is ready to make a title run this season. And they feel that a change of scenery for Miller is the key they need to get them over the top. They’ve been a contender for a few seasons now, and goaltending has been seen as a weakness for them for quite some time. They have allowed the third-fewest goals in the league so far, and they could not afford to rest their playoff hopes on a shaky Halak.
It will be some time before we find out who wins or loses this trade, but if Miller can regain the form we saw from him in 2010 when he win the Vezina and an Olympic silver medal the Blues can be a force in the west as they will have to contend with Chicago and Anaheim. It should also be noted that Miller and Ott are both Unrestricted Free Agents after this season.
In his farewell press conference, Miller looked very choked up. His first words even mentioned that he might not get through it.
This is one of the tough sides of sports, where you have a popular star player but there comes a time when a franchise has to decide whether to continue paying a large amount of salary towards them or should they start a new in the rebuilding process. “I’m thankful to everybody in Buffalo, friends, fans, the organization from the top down, management over the years that believed in me,” Miller said. “I’m thankful for all my teammates over the years. It’s always a great place to come to the rink and compete. I’m very emotional; it’s hard to think it’s been 12 years with this organization.”
His first game with St. Louis turned out to be a win against Phoenix. On the road, Miller made 23 saves on 25 shots as he helped his team made a 2-0 second intermission deficit into a 4-2 victory. He might have been a little nervous in the first few minutes as he gave up a goal from Paul Bissionnette 2:56 into the game. But after that he looked comfortable and settled in with his new team. Equipment wise, he wore the same pads he did in Buffalo, as the teams have similar colors. What was different was he had a plain white mask with a simple Blues logo on the chin. It is unsure if he’ll wear a new setup with his new team.