When things aren’t going well during the regular season emotions run high and it’s easy for teammates to get upset at each other. While Jason Pominville wears the “C” and is supposed to be the captain he prefers to lead by example on the ice and lets some of the other veterans lead in the dressing room. Ryan Miller is one of those veterans who likes to patrol the dressing room but his emotions sometimes get the better of him.
Miller has had his fair share of out-bursts to the media, most notably after the Milan Lucic incident when the Boston Bruins forward ran the Buffalo Sabres
netminder. Since the incident with Lucic it’s been pretty clear that Ryan Miller wants out of Buffalo and during Sunday’s game that became evident.
During a span in the second period of Sunday night’s 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals Miller allowed 3 goals in a span of 5 minutes. On top of Miller not looking rather sharp the defence was no help at all and after the third goal you could tell that Miller would rather be anywhere else. He looked deflated, angry and like he wanted the season to end right there.
The Sabres looked flat during the game against the Capitals and there was a lot of controversy surrounding the fact that Ron Rolston had made Patrick Kaleta a healthy scratch. Sunday evenings game was the first one that Kaleta was eligible to return to after serving his 5-game suspension after his dangerous hit on Brad Richards.
Kaleta was asked about being a healthy scratch and as one can expect he was not too pleased;
“I’m pissed off. I want to play. I want to play. … I guess they don’t need me right now I guess” ~ Patrick Kaleta
Scratching Kaleta was Rolston’s way of letting Kaleta know that his dumb and dangerous hits would not be tolerated by the new coach as it was by Lindy Ruff. The coach was sending a message, letting him know there’s a new boss and a new standard. Kaleta even went as far to say he wasn’t sure if his teammates even wanted him around.
But things after the 5-3 loss took an interesting turn when Ryan Miller was asked about Patrick Kaleta’s comments on being scratched. Miller delivered a simple message to Kaleta- “Grow up!”
“That’s just drama and he needs to just grow up if he’s gonna say that to you guys. You know what? He had a stupid play in a game. He sat, he was punished. He has to get over it and move on.” ~Ryan Miller
First of all after a tough game where Miller wasn’t sharp and the team’s in a rough spot, an un-written rule is you don’t ask about players that didn’t play in the game. The reporter, knowing Miller was upset and looking for a reaction, baited the goaltender by asking about Kaleta and twisting the forwards words. Miller was set up by the reporter, but that being said he shouldn’t have reacted the way he did.
A lot of people were upset by Miller’s comments about Kaleta but that’s just the way Ryan Miller is. He’s a passionate player who speaks his mind, he’s upset after tough loses and just wants to win. When you ask him questions after tough games you’re going to get honest answers- he’s going to tell you exactly what he’s thinking, he doesn’t hide behind cliched athlete comments.
What people can take away from both Miller’s and Kaleta’s comments is that there’s a riff in the Buffalo Sabres dressing room. The fact Kaleta said he needed to see if the team even wanted him back and he implied his teammates were behind him being scratched speaks volumes to the mindset and sturdiness of this team.
The Sabres need someone and I’m guessing it will be Steve Ott, as Jason Pominville won’t, to come in and calm down everyone before it gets really out of hand. For Miller and Kaleta to voice their frustration and lash out to the media you know there has to be more going on behind closed doors. This team is a mess, they’re in a downhill spiral, Miller isn’t playing great and they play with no passion or motivation.
The way things are going it’s time to blowup this team right from the “core,” but they need to start at the top. New management equals a new mindset and thus a new team. Whatever’s going on things aren’t going great in hockey heaven.