BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — He’s a Vezina Trophy winner, an Olympic silver medalist, Olympic most valuable player, NHL All Star, and Hobey Baker winner. Ryan Miller is back in Buffalo where his “Top shelf where Mama hides the cookies” career is being celebrated and honored.
Miller was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame as part of the 32nd Induction Ceremony on Wednesday night. He, alongside 11 other Western New York sports greats, were honored with this distinction.
In the next few months, he will become a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member, and have his name hung in the rafters at KeyBank Center in January.
Even with all of these accolades, Miller stays humble and soft-spoken. He said he always wanted to be on the ice and is ultra-competitive. He also said his drive to play every game and win got him to this point.
Miller played 12 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, which included two runs to the Olympic Games and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2006. Miller has the most wins in Sabres history and is the winningest American-born goaltender in NHL history. In 2014, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues. His career then took him to the Vancouver Canucks and the Anaheim Ducks. He hung up his skates for the last time in 2021.
Miller is finding a new chapter off the ice after his playing career. He did not get into specifics, but he says he wants to be around Buffalo and the Sabres organization more than before.
“Its nice to come back and restart and enter a different stage of life,” Miller said. “Certainly reflecting on how great it was, and hopefully make a chapter just as great.”
He explained that Buffalo is a unique city to play in, with fans buying into their teams with blood, sweat and tears. It is more of a small town, similar to Miller’s upbringing in Michigan and his college years at Michigan State University in East Lansing.
“People really do go out and support people’s interests here, which I think is cool. I think in other cities it’s on such a large scale sometimes, so it [fandom] can get lost. [Fans] You just sort of go, show up and leave. I think here is more of an intimate [fan] experience,” Miller said.
Miller said he wanted to get involved in the Buffalo community when he started with the Sabres in 2002. He worked closely with Roswell Park, even visiting patients when he was in town on the visiting team playing the Sabres.
“When you get involved with the community, its more than just to give back. You feel apart of something,” Miller said. “If you’re going to show up for us, it’s important to show up for the community and have that relationship where it’s not just so one-sided.”
That “Miller Time” energy will return to the KeyBank Center in January when his number joins Sabres legends in the rafters. For Miller, he is proud of what he did in his career, but he can’t believe it is done.
“Part of it is really humbling and a proud moment for sure. But also, it’s kind of like I can’t believe we are at that point,” Miller explained. “It just feels like are we at this stage when we are looking back.”
As the fans celebrate what he did for the Sabres and the Western New York region, Miller says it is time for him to come back to Buffalo and give back to a city that gave so much to him.
“I want to keep that close connection with the people and I want to keep the connection with the organization. I felt strongly about building something when I was here and I want to help contribute and be apart of that in how I can in a different way now,” Miller continued.
He is excited to share this Buffalo experience with his family, especially his children, Bodhi and Kaia, who were not born when Miller played for the Sabres. He tells Bodhi about his time playing in Buffalo, which Miller equated to a family folklore. Now, 7-year-old Bodhi can see KeyBank Center for himself in January. Miller says his son plays hockey, and does play goalie every now and again, but he will support whatever position Bodhi ultimately decides to play.
Miller is still finding this next chapter, but as he writes it, he expects to be around Buffalo more often.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.