Ryan Miller, who has the most wins by a United States-born goalie in NHL history, will retire after this season.
Miller made the announcement Thursday.
“I was keeping it together until the family,” Miller said, choking up. “Hockey has been a true passion for me. Introduced by my family, my dad. … I was really drawn to the goaltender’s position — being discouraged in just the slightest way possible from time to time by my dad because of how difficult it could be to stand there — but I just felt like that was the spot for me. It ended up being exactly where I wanted to be.”
The 40-year-old is 390-289-86 with one tie, a 2.64 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and 44 shutouts in 794 games (770 starts) in 18 NHL seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks. He was 28-27 with a 2.52 GAA, .913 save percentage and three shutouts in 57 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Miller is 3-8-1 with a 3.60 GAA and .882 save percentage in 14 games (12 starts) this season. Anaheim (15-28-7) was eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention Wednesday and has six games remaining.
“I kind of thought this year would probably be my last year, and wanted to take the time to appreciate everything about the game,” Miller said. “It’s been a good year. I’ve been able to soak it in. I could have waited to retire, but just felt like this would be a good way to say goodbye, with some time to appreciate it and tell the guys, so I could enjoy the moment.”
Miller said his priority is to take time for himself and his family, but said he would like to remain connected to the game in the short term. In the longer term, he said he would like to contribute in either management or player development at the NHL level.
Born in East Lansing, Michigan, Miller is 14th on the NHL wins list, one ahead of Dominik Hasek. Miller has 16 more wins than John Vanbiesbrouck, who is second among U.S.-born goalies.
Selected by the Sabres in the fifth round (No. 138) of the 1999 NHL Draft, Miller was 284-186-56 with one tie in 11 seasons with Buffalo. He is its leader in wins and is second in shutouts with 28, behind Hasek (55).
“Buffalo is always going to have a big part of my heart,” Miller said. “I feel like I really grew up there. … I always felt like I kind of owed something to Buffalo in a way. I always wanted to do right by the fans. That was a big inspiration behind a lot of the work in the community, charity, stuff like that. I felt like I was doing something I was very lucky to be doing and Buffalo was allowing me to do it. So I should be trying to make Buffalo a better place.”
Miller won the Vezina Trophy voted as the top goalie in the NHL in 2009-10, when he was 41-18-8 with a 2.22 GAA, .929 save percentage and five shutouts in 69 games (68 starts).
He was traded to the Blues on Feb. 28, 2014, and was 10-8-1 with a 2.47 GAA, .903 save percentage and one shutout in 19 games with St. Louis in 2013-14.
Miller then played three seasons for the Canucks; he was 64-68-16 with a 2.69 GAA, .914 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 150 games from 2014-17. He signed with the Ducks as a free agent July 1, 2017.
The Ducks showed a 10-minute tribute video that included past teammates (Daniel Briere, Jason Pominville), coaches (Jim Corsi), current teammates (Ryan Getzlaf, John Gibson), and Miller’s family, including his parents;, brother and former NHL player Drew Miller; wife Noureen DeWulf and son Bodhi.
Miller won a silver medal with the United States during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He was named MVP of the tournament, winning five of six games with a 1.35 GAA, .946 save percentage and one shutout. He allowed eight goals on 147 shots, including the gold-medal-winning overtime goal to Sidney Crosby of Canada.
Miller was asked about the legacy for United States-born goalies who have come after him.
“I hope they just look at it as something that’s doable,” he said. “A skinny kid from the middle of Michigan was able to work at something and represent the country a couple times and make a career of hockey.
“I think my situation goes to show with some dedication you can set your sights and accomplish something. And if they have looked to me as inspiring, that makes me feel good.”