Niagara Gazette

Sports

February 11, 2006

It's not quite Miller time

Buffalo, N.Y. — The talk amongst Western New York hockey fans isn’t about the Buffalo Sabres players who are going to the Olympics, but about one of the Sabres who will be staying home.

Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, who ranks near the top of the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage, was passed over for the United States hockey team. Miller has better stats than those of the three goalies headed to the Olympics — John Grahame of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders and Robert Esche of the Philadelphia Flyers.

“I don’t want it to affect my season,” Miller said of the Olympic snub. “I’m not going to be devastated. I have a job to do, I wasn’t basing my year on the Olympics. It would have been a bonus and a great experience, but I wasn’t going to let it affect the way I play.”

Miller was named to the U.S. taxi squad this week, meaning he could go to Turin if there’s an injury to one of the three goalies. But don’t expect Miller to pull a Tanya Harding by hiring someone to injure one of three netminders.

“That’s the last thing on my mind,” Miller said. “I just really hope they perform well. Locally, I understand why people would like to see me there, but at some point you have to get behind the American Olympic team.”

Ironically, it’s an injury that kept Miller off the Olympic team. The netminder missed six weeks earlier this season after breaking a thumb during a pregame morning skate.

“I was 6-4 when I got hurt,” he said. “It was a touch decision for the general manager (Don Waddell of the Atlanta Thrashers) and coach (Peter Laviolette of the Carolina Hurricanes).

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