BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — This is a night many Buffalo Sabres fans have had circled on their calendars for months. Former goalie Ryan Miller’s name and number will hang in the KeyBank Center rafters alongside other Sabres legends.
The energy is expected to be electric at KeyBank Center with fans from across the region descending on downtown Buffalo to celebrate Miller. Former teammates, family and friends are also expected to be in attendance.
Fans know Ryan Miller from his iconic saves between the pipes, but what was he like off the ice when he was part of the team? News 4 spoke with three of Miller’s former teammates to go behind the goalie mask. Goaltender Marty Biron, and forwards Andrew Peters and Patrick Kaleta shared their favorite Miller moments. They described him as unique, special, caring and classy.
“We like to joke and say unique and all the — serious — and all this, but he was classy.
He did everything with class and dignity and you know, that’s that sums up his performances,” Peters said. “He’s a team guy, but in his way.”
Miller is the winningest goalie in Buffalo Sabres history. He won the Vezina Trophy and President’s Cup while with the team. He represented the United States at the Olympics, winning MVP in 2010. Miller is adding an additional accolade to the trophy case Thursday night when his number is hung in the rafters.
Kaleta shared a memory about being Miller’s roommate. He said Peters used to be his road game roommate, but then it switched to Miller, which was very different.
“My roommates went from Petey to Ryan. So for me it was watching Step Brothers…” Kaleta said.
“The door opens at 5 a.m. to come home. [Miller’s] door opens at 6 a.m. to go out to prepare. They [have two] totally different types of lifestyle,” Peters said.
“Yeah, he might have been the first one to teach me to fold clothes and stuff like that,” Kaleta added.
Biron noted that goalies are remembered for their superstitions and pregame routines. He recalled Miller standing by the bench pregame, visualizing the game with only his stick. Peters said Miller’s gameday preparation was always the same, no matter what time the game was or where the team was playing.
“He wore his suit in the trainer’s room and he would tape two new sticks, and then he would go and take that suit off and get that skinny body into his underwear, okay? Then he would remember the tennis ball routine,” Peters said. “It was like you could literally know where Millsy was any any moment on a game day. You knew what he was doing. You knew how he was preparing.”
Sabres faithful still wear Miller’s jersey to games, representing the many years he was here. From the goathead and the crossing swords, to the slug, to the traditional blue and gold, fans still supported the goalie, even almost nine years after he was traded from the team. Biron said Miller is beloved because of his charity work and involvement in the community.
“The first time he held this Catwalk for Charity was the first time that I had been a part of a charity event that was: ‘Let’s go have a party. Let’s have fun. It’s driven by the players and let’s do it,'” Biron said. “Players were told stick to sports. You play. You practice. You give us results and that’s it. Millsy did the foundation. He did the events in Buffalo. The community loved it.”
“When you have a player of that caliber embedding himself in the community like Ryan did, I mean, how can you not love the guy?” Kaleta added.
Miller never showed a lot of emotion in the crease or in front of the media during his time as a Sabre. His teammates say he was different in the locker room. His hobbies included photography and he was known for taking pictures in his off-time. Biron says one of his fondest memories was when Miller showed his musical talents during a team dinner at the Country Club of Buffalo.
“There was a band playing for us and the band decides to take a break. Sure enough, Millsy, Toni Lydman, Royzey, you guys (Kaleta and Peters) might have been in there too, decide to go up grab the instruments and basically take over,” Biron recalled. “That band never touched their instruments again for the rest of the night. [Kaleta and Peters] took over the rest of the night. Nobody was dancing when the band was there. Everybody was dancing when those guys playing. It was pretty fun.”
“I don’t think in all my years being a part of the Sabres organization, from 1998 when I was drafted to now, that I’ve ever seen a player love being a Sabre more than Ryan Miller. I mean that. He loved being a Sabre,” Peters said.
“This whole night doesn’t surprise me. After the Olympics, would anyone have guessed that this wouldn’t happen? It’s just a matter of time whenever he decided to retire that they were going to do it,” Peters said. “No one’s worn the number since, so it was almost inevitable.”
Miller’s legacy will forever live on in Buffalo through community outreach, memories of his play on the ice and his name and number, which will take a prominent place in KeyBank Center.