The Los Angeles Kings saluted a rival just minutes after he defeated them presumably for the final time.
The Kings poured off the bench to shake Ryan Miller‘s hand after he helped the Anaheim Ducks win 6-2 in Miller’s final home game at Honda Center on Saturday.
Miller announced Thursday he would retire at season’s end after 18 NHL seasons, and Ducks coach Dallas Eakins started him in goal in Anaheim’s last home game of the season against the Kings.
Miller then made 23 saves, picking up his 391st career win. His teammates mobbed him after the final horn sounded, then the entire Kings roster, led by captain Anze Kopitar and ex-United States teammates Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick, skated to Miller’s end of the rink to offer kind words and hugs in a classy gesture.
“Their whole organization is very classy,” Miller said of the Kings after the game. “We’re all competitors, but at the same time we all love hockey. I think that’s the bigger picture right there that we can go on the ice and compete and still have a lot of respect for each other. I appreciate them coming over.”
Miller’s wife Noureen DeWulf and their son Bodhi joined Miller on the ice for a special ceremony, commemorating his retirement, before his teammates joined in for a team photo.
Each Ducks player wore a Miller jersey for warmups, and he earned stick taps from each side and a standing ovation from the 1,717 in attendance when Anaheim aired a highlight montage during the first period.
The respect paid for Miller made for a unique and deserving sendoff, according to his coach Dallas Eakins.
“Just a massive amount of respect,” Eakins said after the game. “You can see it in a number of different ways. You can see how hard his tammates played in front of him. You see it especially after the game with the officials, the other team coming down to pay respects and congratulate him on an incredible career. You don’t see that often. It says volumes of how he is respected and how much he’s loved within our dressing room.”
It also was the perfect sendoff for Miller’s hockey career in Southern California.
“It was nice to say a proper goodbye in Anaheim,” he said. “My time here has been special to me. I know it’s not the normal situation, but I wanted the opportunity to say goodbye, and … a night like tonight is pretty special.”