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Camp battles nothing new to Miller

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.Drew Miller is used to the training camp battles. Nothing has changed for him in four years in his third different NHL camp.

“That’s every camp, though,” Miller said. “Every camp that I’ve been at Anaheim, Tampa, and here, you’re competing for a spot no matter what, and you go in there with the mindset that you’re going to prove yourself every day.”

The Red Wings’ depth has created a logjam at forward with few positions available. Last season, a bevy of early-season injuries forced general manager Ken Holland to seek a veteran forward to play a fill-in role. Miller, who was signed off of waivers from the Lightning, played a vital part in the Wings’ late-season recovery, adding some timely offenses and logging valuable minutes on the penalty-kill.

“Millsy’s just a good skater and smart,” coach Mike Babcock said. “(He) played real well for us last year on the penalty-kill. He’s a young guy and getting better in his career.”

Miller played well enough to earn a one-year contract after the season that he recorded personal bests in nearly every offensive category, including games played (80), goals (10), points (19), hits (97) and game-winning goals (3). Still, once the preseason gets under way the competition for regular-season ice time will heat-up, and that fact hasn’t escaped the former Michigan State standout.

“I try to pride myself with fitting on any line,” Miller said, “and definitely be counted on to be responsible out there, and play well on the penalty-kill. On a team like the Red Wings, I know I’m not going to play on the power-play unless someone gets hurt or some situation in the game happens.”

The comfort of a long-term contract will likely never be part of Miller’s NHL career

“I think I’d rather be in Pavel (Datsyuk) or Z’s position where you have a long contract and you’re on the team, for sure,” Miller said. “But I don’t mind being in the situation that I’m in. I’m the kind of guy who works hard every day, and you know that you’re going to get that out of me. That’s my approach at camp; you work hard and you prove to them that you want to me here.”

Miller made that point during Monday’s intra-squad scrimmage, scoring a pair of goals, including the overtime winner in Team Lindsay’s 5-4 victory over Team Delvecchio at Centre I.C.E. Arena.

“It’s always a bonus getting goals in these scrimmages,” Miller said. “But you want to make sure you’re out there skating hard, and showing that you want to be here.”

MONDAY’S SCRIMMAGE: Besides Miller’s tallies, Team Lindsay got goals from Brooks Macek, Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi. Goalie Chris Osgood made 20 saves on 21 shots in one period of action for Team Lindsay.

Darren Archibald, Ilari Filppula, Darren Helm and Dan Cleary scored for Team Delvecchio.

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