Anaheim Ducks: Honoring Ryan Miller and His Incredible Career

Ryan Miller #30 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Ryan Miller #30 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

From Guy Hebert to John Gibson, the Anaheim Ducks have had a rich history between the pipes. As the last line of defense, a goaltender’s job is strenuous and requires an incredibly dedicated and mentally tough individual. It is one of the hardest jobs on the ice, and no one has taken on that role more gracefully than Ryan Miller.

Over the last four seasons, it has been an honor to have him serve as the Ducks reliable number two behind John Gibson. It was no surprise when the veteran netminder signed another one-year contract prior to the start of the season. Even a 10-month retirement trial during the pandemic couldn’t keep him away from the game he loved. He still felt as though he had more to give before hanging up his skates.

However, despite committing to another year with Anaheim, it quickly became evident that the 40-year-old goaltender was nearing the end of his career. And, as they must, good things eventually come to an end. On April 29, 2021, Ryan Miller announced that he would be retiring at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.

Tonight, the Anaheim Ducks will face off against their cross-town rivals, the LA Kings. In the final home game of the season, Ryan Miller will start in net and play his last game on Honda Center ice. To make this occasion even more special, Miller will get to play his final game in front of his fans.

An Incredible 18 Year Career

Drafted 138th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 1999, Ryan Miller has had an illustrious career. Making his NHL debut in 2002, Miller finally got his big break when he became the Sabres starting goaltender in 2005. He went on to play 11 seasons in Buffalo, breaking several franchise records while he was there.

However, Miller began making a name for himself well before he made it to the big club. Committing to Michigan State, he would be awarded the Hobey Baker award in 2001. He would also be named the NCAA’s best goaltender in both 2001 and 2002. To this day, he still holds the NCAA shutout record, with 26.

After a short 13 game stint with the Buffalo Sabres in 2002, he would be assigned to their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans. In three consecutive seasons, he posted a save percentage above .920%. He played lights out for Rochester in 2005 and earned himself the Baz Bastien Memorial Award as the best goaltender in the AHL.

2010 was, however, his most memorable year by far. Selected to play for the USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Miller played in all 6 games. Posting an incredible .946% save percentage, he led his team to the finals (USA hadn’t won gold since 1979-1980.) Unfortunatley, USA would fall short, losing to Canada.

Nevertheless, Miller’s incredible work ethic and dedication to his team saw him awarded MVP of the 2010 Olympics. Returning back to Buffalo, he ended the season with a 41-18-8 win-loss record and a .929% save percentage. His performance throughout the year earned him the Vezina Trophy. Although he did not win, he also came in 4th for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

Miller would go on to play 12 more seasons in the NHL. During that time, he became the only player in hockey history to be named top goaltender in the NCAA, AHL, NHL, and at the Winter Olympics.

He currently ranks 14th on the NHL’s all-time win’s list. However, until someone breaks his record, Ryan Miller will be cemented in NHL history as the greatest American-born goaltender, holding the record for most wins, with 390, a record he broke with the Anaheim Ducks.

Pucks of a Feather Staff Salute Ryan Miller

A legend is retiring, and it is an honor to say that the greatest American-born goaltender will end his career with the Anaheim Ducks. As we prepare to say goodbye and usher him into his next phase of life, I asked the staff to share their favorite memories of Ryan Miller.

TJ Watson: I’ll never forget the Colorado OT save that led to Rik Raks OT winner. Wish we got him a playoff series. He deserved that

Redan Lopez: The thin mints for a puck was amazing. I’ll never forget that exchange, as I was at that game. There was also a stick poke that Miller made on Seth Jones in a regular-season game that led directly to a Cam Fowler goal in transition. I’d have to say it was one of the best anticipation saves I’ve ever seen.

Garrett Brown: The entirety of the 2010 Olympics. He stood on his head and he definitely carried the US squad the whole way. Safe to say, he backstopped all subsequent NHL Franchise modes for me.

Brad Senecal: The 2010 Olympics because he lost to my Canadians in the final… just kidding. I remember his start with Buffalo who had been looking for the goalie of the future ever since the Dominator left town and instantly creating a legit contender for many years. In 2007, when they should have been the team in the finals instead of Ottawa, who probably would have given the Anaheim Ducks a more interesting series.

I also respect his loyalty over the years with the teams he played for, especially when coming to the Ducks. He has done a lot of good in the community and would be happy to see him continue his work with the organization moving forward.

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Adam Tenenbaum: My favorite Miller moment was when he had an Interview and told the reporter he thinks Milan Lucic is a piece of sh*t.

Ciara Durant: One of my favorite memories of Ryan Miller, with the Anaheim Ducks, has to be the game he played on  February 17, 2019, against the Washington Capitals. I had been really excited for him to reach the milestone as the winningest American-born goaltender, and he finally accomplished that and has exceeded his own milestone since.

However, I think what I admire most about Miller is his deep-seated devotion to the game. That man has played almost 800 hours of hockey in the NHL over an 18 year period; that doesn’t even include the playoffs, practices, offseason training, and training camps. He has been an incredible mentor to John Gibson and the younger goaltenders in our system as well. And, as Redan mentioned earlier, how can you not smile when you think of him playing Rock, Paper Scissors, and trading Thin Mints for pucks?

A Future with the Anaheim Ducks?

This may be the end of an era, but there is a chance we could see Ryan Miller take on a different role in the NHL sometime in the future. During his retirement press conference, Ryan Miller expressed his interest in pursuing a front-office job.

After being so adamant about staying in Southern California the last few years so his wife could pursue her own career, it is not far off to say that the Miller family will be staying in OC for the foreseeable future. They’ve made a life for themselves here and their son has grown up here as well.

Besides, it seems like there might be an opening for General Manager soon. All jokes aside, the Anaheim Ducks might be able to use his current situation as leverage to get him started on his new path. As Craig Custance mentioned, he is a very smart and analytical thinker. His contributions could be useful in Anaheim.

Next. When Paul Kariya Almost Came Back. dark

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