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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Ryan Miller (Photo: Getty Images)
In a lot of ways, Ryan Miller wants to get back to the way things were in the 2006-07 season.

In a lot of ways, he would also rather leave it behind.

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As the goaltender cleared his locker room stall Monday, answering questions about missing the post-season for the second consecutive year, Miller admitted to wanting changes in the locker room.

The adjustments Miller is demanding, however, are changes in attitude and approach - rather than personnel - to begin regaining the poise the team once had.

“As much as this city fell in love with the team from a few years ago, you’re never going to recapture it,” Miller said. “What we need to do is find an identity, find that swagger that we had. That’s the only thing I want to compare with a few years ago. I don’t want to be that team, but I want the swagger, I want the confidence.”

Miller said he realizes that it is a different look from the team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals twice in as many years, but that he also believes in the depth of the core of players that are still intact.

“If we’re going to be successful with the world-class talent that we have on this team, it’s going to come from attitude and willingness to compete,” he said. “Those are the things you can instill in a player. A lot of the time you can’t find the talent that we have. I’m going to stick to what we have [which is] a ton of talent available in this organization.”

It was the core of the team that Miller cited as a primary reason for signing a contract extension last summer. He now wants that group to adapt to their new roles and get through the growing pains.

“When you’re a rookie and you do it, they pat you on the head and say ‘good job, way to go.’ Then you grow up a little bit, you play some more games and you do the same exact thing and it’s like ‘eh, you’re supposed to do that,’” Miller said. “I think a lot of guys are kind of dealing with that. They are moving into a role where they are supposed to do that and they are supposed to be leaders, they are supposed to go out and score big goals and to be honest I think we saw some improvement. We saw some guys growing, but we have some growing pains.

“We’re not seeking anybody out to give us any empathy on this one... We’re trying to figure things out, we’re trying to sort through some issues to make us a better team. All that we ask is that everyone is patient enough to get through the summer and we hope to improve the product on the ice.”
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