Seven months ago, Ryan Miller proved on a global stage that he truly is one of the world's best goaltenders, as he helped the United States win a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Vancouver.
While it was a tremendous achievement, it was the first of two disappointments in 2010 for Miller. After settling for the silver with Team USA, Miller and the Buffalo Sabres were ousted by the Boston Bruins in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April. Miller hardly could be blamed for the loss, though, as he went 41-18-8 with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in 69 games. Those numbers were good enough for Miller to win the Vezina Trophy as the League's top goaltender.
NHL.com had a chance to speak with Miller recently.
NHL.com -- With training camp finally here, how excited are you to get things going and begin a new season?
NHL.com -- You recently played a big role at the NHL Player Media Tour. How much do you enjoy that event?
Miller -- It feels good to talk to everybody and talk about hockey and see some of the other great players in the League. It kind of adds to that air of excitement.
NHL.com -- Was it an especially long summer after what happened last season, between losing the gold-medal game at the Olympics and then Buffalo's first-round exit in the playoffs?
Miller -- Yeah; two disappointments, but they came out of some pretty positive situations. You have to play well to get to those points. Obviously it's disappointing not to come through and reach your end goal, but you enjoy the process and you enjoy playing hockey. You're fortunate to do it for a living. It's something we get to start all over again. We do what we love to do. It's always exciting.
NHL.com -- Is it hard to believe you're entering your sixth full season in the NHL?
Miller -- Yeah, and nine years pro -- time flies. It's definitely surreal looking back on it already and having eight years under my belt. I don't even know where to go with that one. I haven't really thought about it. It's kind of nice that every year you have a different perspective. You've been around a while and you know what to expect. The excitement of being a rookie has obviously passed, so you find the excitement of trying to reach your goals and things you want to do in your career. You set your goals high and keep working for them.
NHL.com -- With the exception of a few tweaks, GM Darcy Regier basically kept the Sabres intact this summer. Were you happy to see him do that despite what happened in the playoffs?
Miller -- Yeah … you don't just tear everything apart because we didn't get what we wanted in the playoffs. We put a lot of hard work in and it was a culmination of a lot of years of work. We had some good runs a few years ago. We had some down years that really led to a good year last year. We have to get to that point, and sometimes things don't go your way. I think that I'd rather learn the lessons and come back with the same group than be a part of team that doesn't show any patience. Sometimes you have to go through tough things in order to improve and be better. We had our fair share of success last year, but the end was definitely frustrating. You grow from that and learn from that.
NHL.com -- Talk about Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers a little bit. Were you blown away by just how good he was and how good he's going to be?
Miller -- I think he has the potential to be the best in the League. He's right there. He made an impact as a rookie and he's only 20 years old. He really has room to grow and put on weight and be one of those defensemen you can't go into the corner with. He's already 230 pounds, but he has the frame to be like 260. Not too many people can go up against that. He's got advantages now, and he can only get better.
NHL.com -- You're 30 years old, yet you've only played for one coach in the NHL. Is that kind of hard to believe -- and what is it like to play for Lindy Ruff?
Miller -- It's been nice. Our relationship's definitely evolved. He's known me as a young player and pretty much a kid. I'm 30 years old and I've gone through a lot over the last 11 years since they drafted me. I'm very much my own man, but our relationship's evolved over that time. It's nice to have somebody who can understand kind of where you're coming from. It's nice to be able to talk to somebody who is obviously a coach, and I can talk to him on that level now. There's a lot of mutual respect. I think he's a great coach, and there's a reason he's been around that long.
NHL.com -- We assume one of the highlights of your career was playing in the inaugural Winter Classic in Buffalo. Was there a moment from that experience that stands out for you?
Miller -- Just walking out and seeing the crowd. It was a highlight because of the energy surrounding hockey. It was an event, and it was fun to be a part of such a big moment for hockey.
NHL.com -- Antti Niemi just helped the Chicago Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup, but now finds himself playing for the San Jose Sharks. Were you surprised when you heard the news that he wasn't going to be back in Chicago?
Miller -- I was, especially with the emphasis that they put on goaltenders at playoff time. To come through in the clutch and to not have a home, I felt bad for him. But I also felt bad for Chicago. It seemed like they were pushed up against the wall with some financial issues. But that's the price you pay, I guess. They got the ultimate reward, so I don't feel too bad for Chicago as an organization. As far as Niemi, I don't know him at all, but as part of the goaltenders' union, I was hoping he would land somewhere. I'm glad San Jose will take a chance on him. Hopefully he has a mild amount of success, but not more than the Buffalo Sabres.
NHL.com -- Do you get the idea or the feeling that some GMs are kind of changing their tune now that perhaps you don't need a marquee guy to play goal? If so, does that bother you?
Miller -- No. However you want to build your team, there's always different ways to do things. We'll see how things evolve. I just think it's a reaction to the salary cap. It drives some prices down. There's going to be some guys along the way who are going to change teams. Every year somebody makes a statement and becomes the player people thought they could be. For Niemi, it was really his first year in the League. He had a great run and they were able to showcase his skill. I don't think it necessarily changes the landscape. You still need to have somebody who's experienced and can play at a high level. If they want to put that kind of trust in somebody who is not making as much money, that's fine. There's a lot of good goalies out there. There's not a lot of separation between the top of the League and the middle of the pack. It's just a stylistic thing. Ultimately, it's the experience you have. I really believe the contracts need to reflect how much time you've put in and the level you've played at.
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL