Locals have welcomed Ryan Miller back to Buffalo. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ryan Miller upbeat about future with Sabres as training camp opens

BUFFALO – Playing an 11th season with the rebuilding Sabres isn’t a bad situation, Ryan Miller said. The goalie, the subject of rampant trade speculation for months, is returning to a familiar city he considers a home.

Miller said he’s only received warm greetings from fans, many of whom jeered the 33-year-old and his teammates last season as they missed the playoffs again, since arriving back in town last week.

He understands why locals have been losing patience. But Miller, an unrestricted free agent following the season, hasn’t lost hope. He wants to be part of the solution.

“You start to see a situation here where you can build something good, something that’s going to last,” Miller said this morning inside the First Niagara Center as the Sabres reported for training camp and took their physicals. “That’s what I want to be a part of, whether this is the last season I can make a difference or it’s going to continue forward.

“I just want to make sure that I’m a positive influence on this team moving forward and that Buffalo has a lot of success or a foundation to build success on in the future because I do care about this area and the people. I do believe they deserve to be cheering for a team deep into June. My hope is that we can do that this year.”

Miller added: “(General manager Darcy Regier) has to build a team, and maybe he feels that he wants me here. I’m happy to be here, obviously. I have a great connection with the city. I’ve enjoyed my time here. I’m just looking forward to getting started.”

Miller said he’s open to negotiating an extension.

“I’m not going to close off anything,” he said. “There’s a chance to kind of see how things go. I think they want to see how things go as well.”

Check back later for much more from Miller.

In other news:

– Regier said the Sabres will “make every attempt” to get unsigned restricted free agent Cody Hodgson on the ice for Thursday’s first session.

“The efforts that are being made by both sides would indicate that we want to get something done as quickly as possible,” said Regier, who spoke to Hodgson’s agent this morning.

Both long- and short-term deals have been discussed, he said.

– Coach Ron Rolston said he’ll pick the team’s new captain. He plans to rotate the captaincy during the preseason.

– The Sabres officially announced Jerry Forton as Rolston’s third assistant coach today. The Buffalo native was an assistant at Niagara for 13 years before stints at UMass Lowell and Harvard.

Rolston said assistant coach Teppo Numminen has been promoted and will run the defense from behind the bench and be in charge of the power play.

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