By Paul M. Banks
The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver brings retribution for Miller who was cut from the team 2006. I recently spoke with him about his supposed snubbing. “Some of the other people got a lot more angry than I did, I didn’t take it as a slight, I just took it as separating business from personal, it was a situation where I was inspired. And coming off injury, I didn’t get picked, and the goalies that did had more NHL time, they played at a high level. With me they didn’t know,” Miller said.
Playing for Team USA is obviously, in the words of Ron Burgundy, “kind of a big deal,” and Miller has played in some well publicized, high pressure situations. On January 1, 2008, Miller played with the Sabres in the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic, which was the first outdoor NHL game to be held in the United States. The game was played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home to the Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park, New York. The Sabres lost in a shoot-out to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Miller only allowed one goal (out of 25 shots) in regulation.
“I thought it was something cool, to get more of a football atmosphere, get more fans in where you can tailgate and hype it up and talk about he game for the week leading up and the week after,” Miller said. Since the city of Buffalo has franchises in two of the four major sports leagues (Bills in football and Sabres in hockey, although many today question how “major league” the former of the two truly is) I thought Miller would be the perfect person to ask about the difference between the two sports. He used the Winter Classic as an example.
“Hockey fans don’t usually get that kind of outlet. In football, they play the game once a week so they have the whole week leading up to it and the breakdown afterward with all the time to hype up the next week. With hockey you have so many games, sometimes 3-4 week, you might lose one in there even though it was very important, if you can just showcase a few games here and there it gives fans a chance to buzz about something and hold on to it. And it may draw in a few other fans,” Miller responded.
And with any good conversation with a potential member of Team USA, you must bring up the signature moment in Team USA hockey history, the “miracle on ice,” when the extremely under-matched Americans defeated a vastly overpowered and favored USSR at Lake Placid 1980 during the height of the Cold War.
“As Americans we love a good underdog story like that. It definitely was a source of pride combined with that else was going on, there were just so many things that came together and made it a unique moment, its been tough for a lot of teams to replicate that. You can’t even find a situation like that anywhere,” Miller said about the famous moment that occurred the exact same year he was born.
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