Goalie Ryan Miller finds healthy bal­ance be­tween hockey, fam­ily

24 Hours Vancouver - - SPORTS - BEN KUZMA

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.”


Ryan Miller

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