Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Ryan Miller skeptical of Milan Lucic
ESPN.com news services
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Lingering post-concussion-like headaches didn't prevent Ryan Miller from airing his disappointment Tuesday in the aftermath of being leveled by Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic.
The Buffalo Sabres goalie was unhappy with the NHL's decision not to discipline Lucic, who bowled over Miller in the first period of Buffalo's 6-2 loss at Boston on Saturday.
"I'm not going to be happy about it, but I'm not going to speak out against it," he said. "We're going to move forward and we're going to play some hockey. And hopefully, I'm playing hockey sooner than later."
And Miller didn't buy Lucic's explanation that the forward couldn't avoid a collision that was so hard that it knocked off Miller's mask.
"I think he said what he had to say to avoid being suspended," Miller said, referring to Lucic having a hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Monday. "It's the NHL, man. The guy can skate. He can stop. He can turn. He can pick his head up."
Pausing, and then adding with a laugh, Miller said: "If he didn't see me then, I don't even know how that could happen."
The 30 general managers discussed the issue on Tuesday, three days after Miller was leveled when he left the crease to play the loose puck. He's out indefinitely after being hit by Lucic in the first period of a 6-2 loss at Boston on Saturday night.
"It's fair to say there's heightened awareness. There's no change coming," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said. "Brendan wants to make it clear, and he did make it clear, goalies aren't fair game.
"Brendan's done a good job. These things rarely happen, so we don't want to overreact."
Chiarelli added that a straw poll was taken among the GMs whether they felt Lucic should have been suspended. The majority said yes, but Chiarelli said the vote was close.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero said there's some push for goaltenders to be granted a special status similar to quarterbacks in football, which restricts the situations and nature in which they can be hit.
"Several of the general managers just brought up the fact there's only 60 goaltenders in the league," Shero said. "We have to be pretty careful in terms of they're going to play the puck outside the crease and what should be fair and what we really have to look at to protect them long term."
It's not clear what might happen if a similar collision were to happen again.
"I don't know to be honest with you," Shero said. "That's a question for Brendan."
Chiarelli took that a step further.
"My guess is that if you see it again, there will be a suspension," he said.
In speaking with reporters for the first time since being diagnosed with a concussion and whiplash on Sunday, Miller chose his words carefully during a nine-minute interview after he sat out practice.
Miller provided no timetable for when he might be able to play, saying he's still feeling soreness in his neck and experiencing post-concussion-like symptoms.
Miller was hurt 14 minutes into the first period when he skated out to the right circle to play a loose puck that Lucic was attempting to chase down when the two collided. Lucic was issued a two-minute minor for charging.
Saying he felt fine after the hit, Miller continued playing through the end of the second period when he began experiencing tightness in his neck and fatigue. Backup Jhonas Enroth took over at the start of the third period.
The 2010 Vezina Trophy winner did stick around following the game to speak to the media, during which he called Lucic "gutless."
Miller revealed that he and the team went ahead with announcing he had a concussion in a bid to make a case that Lucic should be suspended.
Bruins coach Claude Julien briefly addressed the league's decision Tuesday.
"From our end of it we were convinced it wasn't deliberate," Julien said. "We were hoping that was the decision that was going to be taken and it was."
"I know for a fact that if Milan had intended on hitting (Miller), he would have never got up," he added. "We all know how hard he hits and that speaks for itself."
The Sabres didn't escape criticism either for their failure to rally to Miller's defense following Lucic's hit. Following the game, Lucic expressed surprise that the Sabres didn't attempt to get retribution during the game.
Miller called the criticism unwarranted.
"Lucic's a tough guy. What are you going to do, try to hack him, spear him, cheap-shot him? Then you're no better than he is," Miller said. "I try to have their backs. I trust they have mine, so that's the end of that one."
The Sabres acknowledged a team meeting was held a day later in Montreal to discuss how they reacted to Miller getting hit.
"We've discussed this as players, we've discussed it as a team and we want to move forward," captain Jason Pominville said. "What was said was said, and we've got to look forward to what's ahead of us and not focus on what's behind us."
The Sabres bounced back by overcoming a 2-0 third-period deficit in a 3-2 shootout win over the Canadiens on Monday night. It was their fifth win in six games and pushed them into first place in the Northeast Division.
It was a game in which defenseman Tyler Myers -- the NHL's 2010 rookie of the year -- was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. He was relegated to the press box mostly because of his sloppy play: Myers has only four assists in 16 games, and has been on the ice for seven goals against in his previous four outings.
Myers was also on the ice when Miller was bowled over, and among the players who failed to go after Lucic.
"We've handled it as a team and it won't happen again," Myers said.
Notes: Coach Lindy Ruff said he has not made a decision on whether Myers will return Wednesday, when the Sabres host New Jersey. ... LW Jochen Hecht has resumed practicing, but there's no timetable for his return. He's been out since sustaining a concussion in training camp in September. ... C Cody McCormick's status is uncertain after he sustained an undisclosed injury against Montreal.
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald and The Associated Press was used in this report.