Farewell Ryan Miller
This depresses me. Not because I’m a Sabres fan, and not because I think the team is better off with Miller on the roster. Not even because the team has fallen so far from it’s glory days, with only Drew Stafford left on a roster that’s a shell of what it once was. No, this depresses me because Miller is just another name on a long list of guys that have given their heart and soul and in some cases made significant sacrifices to try to win in Buffalo, to try to win it for us.
Before Miller there was Hasek. And Lafontaine, and Mogilny, and Andreychuk, and Gare, and Schoenfeld and Perreault, and Robert, and Martin, and Lindy Ruff. Twice. There were the Knoxes, and there was Punch Imlach and there was Jim Lorentz and Ted Darling and my greatest fear is that all too soon there will be Rick Jeanneret. Always chasing that silver dream, never reaching it. What would it be like to watch those guys achieve the ultimate while wearing the blue and gold? What would their stat-lines read, what would their legacies be, what would their smiles look like, how loud would it get when they triumphantly hoist that trophy towards the banners of Sabres past?
We will never know.
I don’t know what other fanbases are like, but I know that Buffalo doesn’t just root for their players. We’re not the New York Rangers who bought a cup with Mark Messier or the Kings with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. No, we claim our players. They become one of us. As countless retired NHLers-turned-Buffalo-residents have shown, they stay one of us. Somewhere along the way, Warburg, and Lac-Saint-Charles, and Waterloo, and St. Catherines get erased and Buffalo gets written in their place. That ‘East Lansing’ that sits on Miller’s bio in so many places was halfway to gone. This doesn’t just make the Sabres worse, and this doesn’t just fundamentally alter our fandom going forward.
Good luck Ryan Miller. That’s not just the right thing to say at this juncture, that’s what we mean. Desperately so. To many, you’re still one of us. You’re almost still wearing the same colors. We root for that ultimate thrill, not out of selfishness, but because we like to see the adulation it brings to those around us. The happiness of our fellow Buffalonians matters to us. It matters to us. And as far as most of us are concerned, you’re still one of us. Good luck. Go Blues.