Ryan Miller is calling it a career after nearly 800 games in the NHL.
The native of East Lansing, Mich. will go out with the most wins among American-born goalies in the history of the league when he retires at the end of this season. The 40-year-old’s 390 wins are more than enough to cement his remarkable career in the history books. That’s more wins than other U.S. greats including John Vanbiesbrouck (374), Tom Barrasso (369) and Jonathan Quick (334).
Michigan State star
Miller began as a standout at Michigan State University where he became just the second goalie to win the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate hockey player in the U.S. in 2001. He was drafted into the NHL by the Buffalo Sabres -- an underwhelming 138th overall in the 5th round of the 1999 draft.
He did not find his footing in the league until the 2005-06 season when he helped lead a star-studded Sabres team on two deep playoff runs, falling a round short of a Stanley Cup final appearance both times. Those back-to-back conference finals were as close as Miller would get to a Stanley Cup in his career. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2009-10 as the NHL’s top goaltender while still with the Sabres.
He spent a portion of one season with the St. Louis Blues, tried to help the Vancouver Canucks get over their playoff disappointments, then landed with the Anaheim Ducks in 2017, where he will finish his career. If he doesn’t play again before the season ends, Miller will finish his NHL career with a .914 save percentage.
It’s an impressive pro career, yes, but it’s his play on the international stage that made him recognized across the country. He first represented the U.S. in three straight World Championships between 2001 and 2003.
As a pro he helped the U.S. Olympic team to a silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver games. He had five wins in the tournament and nearly won it all if not for Sidney Crosby’s golden goal that lifted Team Canada past the pesky Americans.
Miller later reflected on the legendary Crosby goal that he was on the wrong side of:
“I haven’t come to terms [with it],” Miller said in 2013. “We went there to win ... It’s not the best memory ... I played that whole tournament pretty aggressive. In my mind I was going to be aggressive with shooters. I thought I was going to catch him off guard with the puck in his skates, and he caught me off guard by kicking it right to his stick. He’s a great player and made a smart decision. I, in hindsight, didn’t make the right decision, but I was playing aggressively the whole tournament and told myself I wasn’t going to sit back and let things happen. I made the aggressive move and I got caught and that’s the way it goes.”
Miller returned to help backstop the U.S. in the 2014 Sochi games.
The Millers are an iconic Michigan hockey family, with Ryan’s uncle Kip Miller winning the Hobey Baker while at Michigan State in 1989-90. His uncles Kevin and Kelly both played at Michigan State and enjoyed NHL careers, too. Kevin Miller helped the Spartans win a national championship in 1986.
Of course, his younger brother Drew Miller also played for the Spartans before a decade-long NHL career during which he spent eight seasons as a fan favorite for the Detroit Red Wings. Drew retired before he got another chance to score a goal on his older brother.
“Michigan State holds a special place with my family. Thank you for my scholarship and the chance to wear green and white,” Ryan wrote in a social media post this week announcing his plan to retire. “To my family, thank you for supporting me with so much love and enthusiasm. It takes a lot of help for a player to go to the rink each day and travel like we do. Thank you to my amazing wife, Noureen who went from knowing nothing about hockey to the person I couldn’t do it without. You have been a source of strength and love. And to my son Bodhi who is just starting his hockey journey, I hope the game continues to give you as much joy as it gave me. You’ll still find me around a rink. Just not in the crease. All the best!”