Ryan Miller (born July 17, 1980, East Lansing, Michigan) is a American ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League. He was selected to play for the U.S. hockey team in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, as starting goaltender. He won a silver medal with the team and was named MVP of the tournament. He is known for his hybrid style of goaltending, placing him on par with the likes of Martin Brodeur and Evgeni Nabokov. He is also the older brother of current Detroit Red Wings winger Drew Miller.
Miller grew up in East Lansing, Michigan and graduated from East Lansing High School. His brother Drew Miller is currently a forward for the Red Wings and three cousins (Kelly Miller, Kevin Miller and Kip Miller) all played in the NHL. Additionally, all five went to Michigan State University.
Miller was drafted in the 5th round, 138th overall, by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. As a college player for the Michigan State University Spartans, Miller set an NCAA record with 26 career shutouts and was the winner of the Hobey Baker Award in 2001, when he led the country in wins, winning percentage, save percentage (an NCAA record .950 mark), goals-against average and shutouts (an NCAA record 10).
Miller was the 2001 Big Ten-Jesse Owens Men’s Athlete of the Year.
Miller, nicknamed “Unscoreonable” by an MSU teammate, became only the second Spartan in history to win the Hobey Baker Award and only the second goaltender (Robb Stauber won it in 1988). He was the CCHA‘s Goaltender of the Year all three of his seasons in East Lansing, and was the league’s overall MVP twice. Ten members of Miller’s family, including his grandfather, father, uncle, five cousins (including Kelly, Kevin and Kip Miller), and his younger brother Drew, have played college hockey for the Spartans. His cousin Kip Miller won the Hobey Baker in 1990. He has often credited his Spartan connections, especially long-time friend and tutor Jason Muzzatti, with getting him where he is today.
After three seasons with Michigan State, Miller moved to the American Hockey League, where he played for the Sabres affiliate the Rochester Americans in 2002–03. During that season he played 15 regular season games for Buffalo. He has spent most of his career as the starting goalie for the Americans winning 41 games and tying Gerry Cheevers‘ record.
Miller finished the 2005–06 season by establishing himself as the starting goalie for the Sabres. He ranked 11th among NHL goalies with a 2.60 GAA, and 9th with a save percentage of .914. Miller led the Sabres to a surprise season, winning 30 games and proving himself to be one of the hardest working goalies in the league. Miller played well in the postseason as well, advancing the Sabres to the conference finals before injuries finally caught up with them, losing game 7 to Carolina.
After the 2005–06 season, Miller became a restricted free agent and waived his right to arbitration. Mike Liut, Miller’s agent, continued to negotiate with the Sabres through the summer. On September 8, 2006, the Sabres announced that they have re-signed Miller to a three-year contract.
The 2006–07 season would prove a successful one. In his first season starting with the number one job, Miller and his team won the first 10 games in a row. Miller was voted in as the starting goaltender for the Eastern Conference of the 2007 NHL All-Star Game in a 12–9 loss, he played the first period and allowed just 3 goals. Miller also gained a reputation of a shootout specialist with his technique of challenging the shooter outside the crease. That season he was 10–4 in shootouts, with Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils being his closest rival at 10 wins and 6 losses. In 63 games played that season, Miller posted a 0.911 SVP and a 2.72 GAA backing a more offensively oriented team.
In the post-season of that year, Miller would lead his team to defeat the New York Islanders in 5 games, the New York Rangers in 6, and would go on to the conference finals for the second time in 2 years, only to lose to the Ottawa Senators in 5. Miller’s game was notably improved in the playoffs however, exiting with a .922 SVP and 2.22 GAA.
On October 11, the Sabres won their first game of the 2007–08 season with a 6–0 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Miller had the shutout stopping 20 shots in a game following the death of his 18-year-old cousin, Matt, who died the Monday before of a complication with a bone-marrow transplant. At the close of the game, Miller raised his stick to the home crowd in tribute and had received star honors for his effort in net.
Miller’s current helmet design has the words “Matt Man” on the back in remembrance.
On January 1, 2008, Miller played with the Sabres in the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic, which was the first outdoor NHL game to be held in the United States. The game was played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home to the Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park, New York. The Sabres lost in a shoot-out to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Miller only allowed one goal (out of 25 shots) in regulation. Miller previously played outdoors in the Cold War – a game between Michigan and Michigan State held in 2001.
On March 28, 2008, Miller played in his 73rd game of the season, breaking the Sabres franchise record for most games played in a season, passing Grant Fuhr, Dominik Hašek and Martin Biron. In spite of the presence of then backup goaltender Jocelyn Thibault– Miller finished the season with 76 games played, recording a 2.64 GAA and a .906 SVP.
On July 18, 2008, Miller signed a five-year contract extension worth $31.25 million with the Sabres that will keep him in Buffalo through the 2013–14 season. The contract took effect at the start of the 2009–10 season. Miller suffered a high-end ankle sprain on February 22, 2009, in a game against the New York Rangers, which kept him out of action until late March. Despite Miller’s strong 34–18–6 record during the 2008–09 NHL season, the Sabres narrowly missed out on qualifying for a playoff berth.
Miller was selected as starting goalie for the United States of America in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Although the US team was not a medal favorite, Miller led the team to a perfect 5-0 start, including a 5-3 win over gold-medal favorite Canada in the preliminary round, stopping 42 of 45 shots. The five wins, including victories over Switzerland and Finland in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively, brought the US to the gold medal game, where they faced Canada for the second time. In the gold medal game, the US lost 3-2 in overtime despite Miller’s 36 saves, as Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner. The US team won the silver medal, and Miller was named MVP of the tournament, with a save percentage of .946 and an American Olympic record goals-against average of 1.35. Miller, along with being honoured as the MVP, won IIHF best goaltender honours and was named to the all-star team.
Miller, along with his dad, Dean, started the Steadfast Foundation which supports cancer patients and their families.