Goalie Ryan Miller finds healthy balance between hockey, family
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ryan Miller was pressed for time.
Getting his game back in order after a lingering wrist injury delayed his debut with the Anaheim Ducks until late October remains a maintenance priority.
Getting better acclimated with frantic Southern California freeways — so those treks between his Los Angeles home and Anaheim area rental are manageable to maximize family time — requires day-to-day diligence. Amid all this, Miller still finds time to talk. He always did. He always will.
A passion for his profession, his family and the relationships forged in three challenging seasons with the Canucks is not lost on the 37-year-old stopper.
Miller could have remained a Canuck had he accepted a one-year incentive-laden contract extension. But on the first day of free agency he got bigger bucks and better term in a twoyear, $4 million US commitment from the Ducks.
He also got a window to win it all and a better bond with his L.A.-based actress wife, Noreen DeWulf, and their 2 1/2 year old son Bohdi. You can’t beat that.
“I made sure to communicate that back to the boys in Vancouver,” said Miller. “That was a big reason I made this decision. It was based on the other people in my life and not just my hockey family. I’ve done the transition with three different teams and the one thing that’s different is that I left a team where I made great relationships.
“I really wanted to make my mark in Vancouver and do something with that group. It didn’t work out the way we hoped. The one that felt weird starting this season is that there was a comfort level in Vancouver and we enjoyed our time there.”
The on-ice experience was often trying and constant losing can grate on any player, let alone one in the twilight of his career. Yet, Miller was always meticulous in his practice and game preparation and detailed in descriptions of what went wrong on so many nights.
In his final season of a threeyear, $18-million contract, he faced 40 or more shots on nine occasions — including three times in the final month of Vancouver’s sorry season — and was often the only reason the Canucks were even in games.
His lasting legacy is his mentorship of Jacob Markstrom. The more competitive and composed Canucks goalie today is a product of learning from the professor.
“I’m proud of him,” said Miller. “After I signed here, I passed along a few things. That’s always been my intention, to be the best I can be because it’s going to help me in the long run, help the team and Jacob. He has always had all the tools — he’s very athletic and has the size and the mentality.”