Last Friday, Ryan Miller had his “Patrick Roy” moment, absorbing boos from the fans and then responding with a mocking wave to the crowd.
With one year left on his contract, a rebuilding team and without question being one of the more desirable goaltending options for any team that needs one, it felt like the end of a long-term relationship between Miller and the city.
This Friday, Miller will be between the pipes when the Sabres close out their disappointing season at home against the New York Islanders. It could be the last time Sabres fans see him in a Buffalo sweater – his 500th game with the franchise.
He told Sabres Edge he’s just going to try and enjoy the moment … and that he doesn’t have any ill will towards the fans:
"I’m not mad at the fans," he said. "It’s heat of the moment. You get emotional.
"Some people were giving me some grief, and I just picked my hand up like, ‘OK, I hear ya.’ It wasn’t a screw you. It wasn’t a, ‘I hate you guys.’ It was, ‘You know, I hear ya. Enough. I get it. Just let me try and do what I’ve got to do.’
"I’ve done more than my fair share to go out and prove that I’m part of this community and give back as much as I can. We don’t even talk about all the stuff I try and do to make this feel more like my second home. That’s where I’m going to leave it. I care about the people here. If they’re frustrated with the way we’re playing, I can acknowledge it and we can move on."
That’s the truth: Miller, unlike teammate Steve Ott, has accepted the fans’ reactions at games, to the point where he believes the Sabres earned their boos. His honesty and candor have been both an asset and a distraction for Buffalo over the years – one can only have so many Emo-pressers before the vibe the fans catch is unmistakably negative.
Caitlin Campbell of Sabres Noise believes Miller’s earned the right to have a proper send-off from the fans:
After Miller’s last home game he deserves a chance to go out there again and put on a better performance. See if he can get a win and give the Sabres’ faithful a proper salute, let Miller have his moment with the fans. Let Ryan Miller go out on top and leave the Sabres’ faithful with happy memories.
Is this the end? As Miller told the Buffalo News: "There’s been a lot of ‘could be last game as a Sabre’ the last few years."