Reunion Tour: Ryan Miller

They’re getting the band back together this week at First Niagara Center. On Sunday the Sabres take on the Flyers and there will totally be a final score and stuff. It’s going to be a time.

As we get ready for hockey, I’m trying to get back into the habit of thinking about hockey. Forget line combinations and numbers and opponents. All that will matter when there are games to watch. Right now, let’s talk about the things we know for sure. Let’s talk about Ryan Miller.

Ryan Miller is an interesting person. I don’t think that has to be said, really, but it’s an important place to start. During the lockout, it was Miller who made waves with his quotes, saying much more more than the usual warbling of “this sucks” and “it’s frustrating” you got from most players.

Usually it was said through an email to a journalist suddenly thrilled to have all their quotes transcribed for them. Whether you agreed with the players or owners during the lockout, it was fun to imagine Miller hammering out missives on his Macbook Pro late at night. He probably rewrote a few sentences, got distracted by a Crash Course video on YouTube and felt strangely satisfied when he hit ‘send.’ It was a very blogger-like thing of him to do.

That said, Miller did get out of his basement a few times during the lockout. He actually took part in negotiations between the players and owners. He sat in an ergonomic chair in front of a heavy, wooden table in New York and did something that made Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs mad. Well, maybe. Again, it’s fun to imagine he said some nasty things and pounded his fists on a mahogany table while the Bruins owner debated raising beer prices on you at the arena.

tumblr_mgmoxnbRJb1qz6f9yo2_500Whether it happened or not, we never really heard Miller during the lockout. I always found it interesting that his words were never verbal. A text message to John Vogl or an email to James Mirtle, but no “quotes” in the traditional sense. With no hockey to play, Miller communicated through texts and emails like the college roommate that lives 3,000 miles away during the summer.

Things are great in California, man. I hope you’re keeping busy.

We have grown used to hearing Miller’s voice over the years. The Ryan Miller Press Conference is a relatively famous part of the Sabres postgame process. Win or loss, the media stands outside the locker room and waits for the doors to open. They rush from player to player, scrum to scrum, and get the quotes they need. Miller is always last, and he always has the biggest crowd.

You wait for Ryan Miller, and he usually delivers something worth adding to your story. He provides a context to the game that’s important. Even if you don’t agree with what he says or what he sees, it makes a big impact on how you view the Sabres. His thoughts certainly influenced what I thought about the lockout as well, but his voice was missing.

On Friday, Miller had a long talk with reporters. It’s will be nice to hear him talking again. And playing.

Yeah, that too.