Minnesota Wild fans gave retiring Anaheim Ducks goalie Ryan Miller a stirring standing ovation for what was likely his final NHL game at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.
Miller has enjoyed a fitting sendoff to his 18-season NHL career. Many hockey fans in Minnesota may have been watching Miller since he was playing at Michigan State, before his time with the Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks and saluted him in classy fashion.
His parents were in the crowd, and the Miller family had a tender moment together after the game.
"Pretty emotional," Miller said after the game. "It was nice to have them there. They were there in the beginning, [and it] felt right to have them there at the end."
Like last Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings, Wild players also approached Miller after the game, a 4-3 Minnesota win, to shake his hand and offer congratulations on a spectacular career.
"A 10 out of 10 human being," Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said of Miller. "I've loved our time together, personally. He's someone I can bounce things off of. He's got a lot of experience. We will miss him."
But Miller wasn't the only Ducks player receiving a hero's welcome in Minnesota. Ducks forward David Backes, a Minneapolis native who likely played his final NHL game in St. Louis on Wednesday, also got a huge salute from the crowd in St. Paul on Saturday.
The ovations were no surprise given Miller and Backes' character, according to Eakins.
"It simply shows how much respect these guys carry in the [NHL]," Eakins said. "It's no secret in this League what both of those men have meant to other teams; to their teammates. When you see that that is something special."
- NHL.com independent correspondent Jessi Pierce contributed to this report.