On Thursday, the goaltender raised his No. 30 to the rafters, becoming the eighth Sabers player to receive the honor, and became the 43rd inductee into the Buffalo Sabers Hall of Famer.
“It was a great feeling,” Miller said.
He was joined on the ice by his wife, Noureen DeWulf; son Bodhi, 7; daughter Kaia, 9 months; parents Dean and Teresa; brothers Drew and Bryce; and sister Brynn. “I’m glad my family could be there. The children were there. Bodhi is old enough to take all this in. Family folklore can only be a limited number of stories before you have to show the child where it really happened. Kaia did it. I’m proud of her for that. It’s just one small step for a baby. But just having friends and family see her and see where I am in life right now, Me and Noureen coming back here, this is a great part of our lives too. Great memories and great friendships.”
Miller was greeted by a rousing ovation from the crowd and an iconic shout of “Milllleeeeeerrrrr!” from legendary Sabers announcer Rick Jeanneret. Owner Terry Pegula also presented him with a sword during the ceremony leading up to Buffalo’s 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders.
Miller was attended by more than 100 friends and family. Among them were 18 former Sabers teammates, including Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy and Henrik Tallinder, and former team manager Rip Simonick.
Former Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek appeared in a video featuring Miller. Buffalo retired Hasek’s No. 39 in 2015.
“Welcome to the club,” Hasek said.
The other Buffalo players with a retired number are Gilbert Perreault (No. 11), Richard Martin (No. 7), Rene Robert (No. 14), Tim Horton (No. 2), Danny Gare (No. 18) and Pat LaFontaine (No. 16).
When he first arrived in Buffalo after signing his first NHL contract in 2002, Miller was given a tour of the arena. He said that when he looked up into the rafters, the dream began to seep in.
“Enter here and see the ‘French Connection’ [line of Perreault, Martin and Robert] and seeing Tim Horton’s number, at the time those were the only numbers there,” he said. “And I had this little fantasy. I made. I looked out and I was like, ‘Wow, you know, I’m signing with a professional team. We’ve got some banners up there, wouldn’t that be great? And this is an incredible dream come true situation.”
Miller ranks first among goaltenders in Buffalo history in wins (284), games played (540), saves (14,847), and wins in a season (41).
He played 11 seasons with the Sabers (2002-14) and was their No. 1 goaltender from 2005-06 until he was traded to the St. Louis Blues on February 28, 2014. Buffalo has qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs four times with Miller, including reaching the Eastern Conference Final in 2006 and 2007. He won the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the goaltender voted best in the League, in 2009-10 when he had a career-high 41 wins in the NHL , 2.22 goals against. average and a savings percentage of .929.
“He was the backbone of this team,” Vanek said. “I think with him you knew he was locked in every night, and that’s what made him the best professional and the goalkeeper that he was his whole career… For me, as a player, going into every game I knew we had the chance to win because we had Ryan Miller.”
Miller went 391-289-87 with one tie in 796 NHL games (772 starts) for the Sabres, Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks.
Among American-born NHL goaltenders, Miller is first in wins and second in both games played (796), behind John Vanbiesbrouck (882), and shutouts (44), behind fast jonathan (57).
It is the third honor in recent months for Miller. He was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame on November 9 and the USA Hockey Hall of Fame on November 30.
Current Sabers players watched the ceremony from the dugout and took a photo with Miller after the game. Forward Alex Tuch he grew up a fan of the team in Baldwinsville, New York, two hours east of Buffalo.
“Miller was the goalie I grew up watching play,” Tuch said. “Even though I wasn’t a goalie growing up, I definitely idolized him and loved watching him play. He’s an amazing goalie. Once I came to town, I started hearing about how much he meant to the community and what he did and his time with him. roswell park [Comprehensive Cancer Center] and what a good person he was, and that made it all the more special that I got to watch him grow up. To see him honored tonight, I mean, he definitely deserves it.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said: “He’s been an important part of the Sabers franchise, playing 11 years, America’s winningest goaltender. And it’s great to be here with him, and to be here with the fans who love the Sabers. You know”.
As for what he’s most proud of, Miller said, “It’s hard to pick a moment. I loved playing with the guys and the feeling of winning a game. I thought we did it the right way and built it together as a group.” All these guys have been saying nice things about me, but I can still say about them how much of an impact we all had on each other.
“…I just remember the guys being really receptive, open, competitive. There were fun times on the ice. As intense as it was there, there was a lot of fun in practice. I thought it was a sign of a good team. , actually”.
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