Why should anyone be surprised when Ryan Miller’s supposed outbursts are just as unique?
By now perhaps you’ve heard that Miller chastised Buffalo News reporter John Vogl and then argued with Jerry Sullivan. If you haven’t, you can listen to it courtesy of WECK’s Brad Riter HERE.
To recap, Miller snapped when Vogl asked him how he felt. Seriously. That’s what happened. It’s kinda dumb, and it will be a much bigger deal than it needs to be. Why? Mostly on account of Miller being an enigmatic interview. A brilliant reasoner, Miller is great on a good day and a horror show when he doesn’t feel like helping a reporter do his job… and this builds up in the media.
So when Miller refused to give Vogl a quote on the lede of every reporter’s story on Sunday afternoon’s contest — which was obviously, “How does the best player on your team throw a garbage tornado up when his team gives him six goals to play with?” — things got intense and went to places they shouldn’t have gone. Do you honestly think Miller or Sully would’ve dropped an F-bomb if he knew kids were around? There’s a throng of humanity around during an interview… sometimes you can’t see over tall people.
Here’s the thing: in the “interview,” Miller sounds unreasonably upset that Vogl won’t just directly ask, “Have you been playing too much lately?” or “How come you allowed so many goals, dude?”
Here’s another thing: Miller also got unreasonably upset when the media assumed he knew there was a 24-hours-old published report that the place he worked had a rich interested buyer and asked many direct questions.
Why? He’s a different sort of cat. He’s more patient than you’d expect sometimes and also plays the role of tomfoolerist when he doesn’t feel like answering questions. His personality carries an aire of “I’m better than this and you, too,” but he’ll also surprise you by asking about something you didn’t think he’d remember. He’s left-brained and weird, like a lot of goalies. He might be a world-class jerk, too, but it doesn’t really matter as long as he does his job well. Truth? Yep.
You don’t have to like it. Heck, I’d say most Buffalo people who don’t like Miller feel that way on account of the fact that you can’t imagine Miller joining you for a Coors Light at your local hole-in-the-wall. Additionally, there are people who do like him and probably feel that way because he’d order some ridiculous beverage only available in Papua New Guinea and then inform them about the differences in denim between the seven continents.
(By the way, before we get off the actual rant, Jerry Sullivan killed it as usual. By killed it, I don’t mean I entirely agree or disagree… it’s just compelling writing. He may not get the credit in his time at The Buffalo News because of his radio persona, but his columns are gems and have been for years. This may be partly biased because he’s one of the most genuine fellas I’ve ever met, but I digress).
Miller wants more direct questions, you know, like he’d get in Toronto or New York while getting torn apart by allowing seven goals in a game his team needs in a season he’s spent mired in “the funk,” as Cornel West calls it. So, here’s how you fix it: tomorrow, ask Miller, “Where’s your Vezina form?” and “Do you think your contract includes too much money considering you haven’t been all that good?”
Also, promise him you won’t forget that the entirety of last season’s successes can be credited, more or less, to how good he was. And thank him for the Olympic run, which was amazing.
I just think the world would be off if we were a little more direct with each other. For example: there’s this question about whether Drew Stafford is for real and has matured or if he’s just playing out a contract year. What if we went all crazy and admitted that the Occam’s Razor — you’re welcome Whitey — for all this is likely right? Yes, it’s an assumption, but try arguing with this idea: Five days after his 21st birthday, Drew Stafford was called up to the Sabres and it was as easy as it gets. He was crowned the new Chris Drury within weeks, getting by on his nutso talent and physical skill while finding out that one of his favorite metal bands wanted to be good friends with him. So he figured the NHL was going to come as easy as hockey always has to him. Then one day he realizes he has to work harder — probably because he’s four years older — and starts kicking butt.
Sweet. Let’s sign him up.
Or maybe Tyler Myers struggled to start this year because there was more pressure on him and he was playing his first regular games without the defense partner for his entire career, Henrik Tallinder. Or maybe Patrick Lalime was only signed because Miller liked him, Lalime knows it, and that’s why Jhonas Enroth was called up when Miller was slated to be out with more than a 24-hour-bug.
Sometimes, the easiest answer is the right answer. On my Friday afternoon drive to Rochester, I heard a radio host argue the Sabres were better without point-per-game forward Derek Roy. The host shouted down anyone who issued valid and easy reasons like, “These games are against bad teams,” “Drew Stafford is back and healthy” or “Thomas Vanek is playing the best hockey of his career.” (It was also not mentioned that they were 5-3-1 in Roy’s last nine games and already coming into form).
If you have to work super hard to back up your answer, the odds are it’s the wrong answer. Being a sports fan should be easy. The Sabres and Bills don’t always make it pleasant, but it can be easy. Try this: the Bills need a franchise quarterback. Don’t sweat whether Ryan Fitzpatrick is the answer or Cam Newton could be… do you think the Bills would be fixed if they had a franchise quarterback? Yes? Okay. Now onto the Sabres: if Ryan Miller finds his 2009-10 form, will they be a threat in the East? Yes. Is he a weird guy? Yes. Cool.
On with the show.
(I’m filling in for Brad this Monday from 4-8 p.m. Feel free to call. I’m pumped).