BUFFALO – With his future as the Sabres’ franchise goalie iffy, Ryan Miller said he’s trying to find a balance. The veteran doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions as rumors swirl he’ll be traded this offseason.
For years, one of Miller’s greatest strengths has been becoming “really focused and fired up,” he said. But that hurt him at times.
The 32-year-old wants to let go a bit now.
“I’m just trying to be open to the opportunity,” Miller said this morning as the Sabres cleaned out their lockers inside the First Niagara Center. “If it’s to be in Buffalo, I’ve been a Sabre my whole career. That’s where I like to be. That’s great.
“If it’s somewhere else, then I have to accept it and move on because that’s sports. So I don’t think there’s a bad situation in it if you just kind of take it as I’m going to be playing hockey again next year, and it’s going to be exactly what I always wanted to be doing.”
Miller’s not convinced he’s a goner. He cited Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who stayed with the Canucks despite assuming a No. 2 role, as an example.
“Everything’s unpredictable,” Miller said. “Everyone thought Luongo was going to get traded. Look where he is.”
At some point soon, Miller, who has one year left on his contract like leading scorer Thomas Vanek, will sit down with general manager Darcy Regier and talk about his future. Vanek also plans to have a meeting.
The Sabres have already dealt some high-profile veterans, including former captain Jason Pominville. It’s unclear whether they’ll rebuild fully or simply retool a bit.
“There’s definitely signs that there’s been a little bit of a shift in the plan, the long-term plan,” Miller said. “So we’ll see if that’s something (they take) a little bit further, I become just an asset they’re going to use. Ultimately, it’s not going to be up to me.”
Miller insists he’s “not going to try to worry too much.”
“If I’m here, it’s a great organization,” he said. “They want to win. That’s something you look around the league. Everybody does want to win. But we have great resources here. We have good people. I think ultimately they league has a lot of parity. You just have to find the right mix, the right attitude.”
Having missed the playoffs two straight seasons and four of the last six, the Sabres haven’t possessed that combination often.
“I’m convinced more and more as I play longer and longer it’s more about the attitude and the kind of team you build,” Miller said. “It’s not always about a bunch of skill pieces. You have to define the way you play. And we can find a way to play here, if we can define it and do it every night, we’ll have just as good a chance as anybody.”
Meanwhile, Vanek, who believes the Sabres appear to be rebuilding based on their trade deadline activity, said, “If it looks like it’s a long rebuild, then it probably makes sense for both parties to move on.”
Has the slick winger thought about his days with the Sabres ending?
“Let’s be honest. I’m not stupid,” Vanek said. “I know I have a year left and they can probably deal me for prospects, young guys, whatever else is out there. Yeah, I’ve thought about it.”