'Dream come true' | Miller reacts to number retirement, Hall induction

‘Dream come true’ | Miller reacts to number retirement, Hall induction

Ryan Miller wanted to write his own story with the Buffalo Sabres. 

He knew it would take a new number to do so. 

Miller had worn No. 39 through juniors and during his accomplished career at Michigan State University – the same digits worn by Hall-of-Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek, who had departed the Sabres one season prior to Miller’s NHL debut in 2002. 

He landed on No. 30, which he had worn growing up. 

“Transitioning from 39 to back to 30 when I turned pro was definitely inspired by Dominik and wanting to do my own thing and showing I had my own hockey existence,” he said. “He’s arguably the best goalie ever, so I needed to do my own thing.”

Miller’s No. 30 will be raised to the KeyBank Center rafters during the 2022-23 season, joining Hasek’s No. 39 and serving as an enduring reminder of the story he wrote during his 12 years in Western New York – one that included team records in wins, saves, and games played by a goalie as well as a Vezina Trophy in 2010. 

The team informed Miller of his number retirement, along with his induction into the Sabres Hall of Fame, with a surprise message from Rick Jeanneret during a visit to KeyBank Center on Friday. 

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: It���s Miller���s time.Next season, number 30 will take its rightful place in the rafters. pic.twitter.com/3Z2Mos4kso

Miller came to town with his wife, Noureen, and their two children, 7-year-old Bodhi and 2-month-old Kaia, along with his mother, Teresa, and sister, Brynne. 

The trip included a press conference on Wednesday for Miller’s induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, but the idea of the visit has been on Ryan’s mind since Bodhi was born. He spoke about bringing his family to Buffalo during his retirement press conference at the end of the 2020-21 season.

“It’s good for my son Bodhi to kind of put some physical with the folklore,” Miller said. “We’ve been telling him a lot about our time here, Noureen and I. Where we lived, where we spent a lot of time, who we hung out with. Now, he gets to see some of those faces and places. That was kind of the inspiration behind this trip.”

They visited Ryan’s favorite restaurants and drove past former homes. They walked Elmwood and Canalside. They showed Bodhi where mom and dad went to dinner after they got engaged.

That the trip included a message from Jeanneret, Teresa said, was fitting. She recalled Bodhi being young and sitting in his highchair, asking to call up highlights of dad. 

“So, we put them on, and he would watch the highlights,” she said. “And so Rick Jeanneret’s voice – he grew up on his voice. He just knows about the Sabres, and they talk about stuff. I just think that this was just a significant part of his life and to show it to Bodhi has been wonderful.”

Miller departed the Sabres following a trade to the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14 and went on to play for Vancouver and Anaheim. In some ways, he never left Buffalo. 

He continued to visit Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center on road trips with the Canucks and Ducks. He received loud, standing ovations each time he played against the Sabres. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Miller held a game-worn equipment auction through his Steadfast Foundation and donated portions of the proceeds to causes in Buffalo. Just last summer, he spoke about what Western New York meant to him in a message to No. 1 draft pick Owen Power.

Video: Ryan Miller’s message to Owen Power

“I’ve always appreciated my experience here as a member of the community,” he said. “Coming here and playing hockey was a dream come true. Playing with a great NHL organization and building something with a great group of guys, but then to also feel at home in the city was important to me and to make myself a member of the community where I could give back in different ways. 

“That was always important to me. A big part of my time here was interacting with people, actually living life here and not just coming to the rink and going away. I was happy that I was always involved and out and about and felt connected. It really was a great home when I was here.”

The city reciprocated that commitment. Miller received the loudest ovation of any alumnus who appeared on the video board when Jeanneret had his banner night in May. 

He will have his own night to celebrate with fans this season. In the meantime, he has another trip to plan.

“I’m excited to come back and celebrate and see people,” he said. “We need to make more plans – definitely want to do more in the fall and really connect with all the people I maybe didn’t have time to connect with this time.”

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