Hockey League, even it was only a three month stay.
with the Washington Capitals) received a phone call he did not think
would come for awhile.
as a first-time head coach in a brand new job with a sparkling,
promising new franchise-in an area he was very familiar with-Lansing,
behind the bench in the professional ranks. Around the same time in
December, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim fired head coach Craig Hartsburg
and replaced him with assistant coach Guy Charron.
aspirations to move up) Miller had an opportunity that many don’t always
get a shot at and he had some soul-searching to do.
“It was a difficult decision. It was hard to leave the team in
midstream, but I knew they would be in capable hands.”
and made what could have been a terrible situation turn into a big
positive for the Lansing club.
Blum took over right away and got the team rolling. Immediately.
winning streak right after he left,” says Gay. “We’re now sitting in
third place, looking at the playoffs. I’d say our team responded to the
whole situation very well.”
for him. So, it made it easier.
the state of Michigan, namely his family.
Miller. “I hated to rip my family away from our hometown there in
Lansing, but we agreed it was a job I couldn’t refuse.”
and the second half of the season with Anaheim. But, he keeps in touch
with them as he climbs the hockey coaching ladder.
it was an opportunity that came up quickly,” he says.
More quickly than he thought? Yes, perhaps. But, he felt he was
plans together and spending time in Grand Rapids last year with the
Griffins, helped to prepare me for this job,” says Miller.
coach Ron Mason, completely agrees with his former pupil.
time he spent over here (at Michigan State) helping out last year and
this past summer, got him ready,” says Mason. “I noticed that he was
learning the game from a coach’s perspective in the last couple of years
he played in the pros, so he was ready.”
be ready for what can happen in the NHL coaching ranks.
hated to leave, but the opportunity might not happen again. You’ve got
to go for it, for personal reasons.”
he plays for him in college, but he saw a lot of positive qualities in
Miller that he knew would help Miller later on down the line.
ice,” says Mason, for whom Miller played from 1982-86. His behavior was
truly impeccable while he was here. I knew then, that he wanted to stay
in the game, in some fashion, after his career was over.”
Mason also cautions though, that the NHL can test your nerves too.
says. “Because you could be out just as quickly as you got in. That’s
just the nature of the game.”
But, it’s a gamble that Miller seemed willing to take and so far he has
fit in nicely.
late season moves (notably, trading superstar Teemu Selanne to the
playoff-bound San Jose Sharks for Jeff Friesen and former University of
Michigan goaltender Steve Shields) that should help the club down the
Jean-Sebastien Giguere,” says Miller. “Plus, Friesen adds a tremendous
amount of grit to our club, so that will help us. He’s a young guy in
the league and I think we’ll see the benefits soon.”
Still, Miller won’t forget what he started in Lansing, in the NAHL.
transition to the pros has been easy because of that experience.”
in Lansing. “The only way to approach the game is to teach the game,”
he adds. “You start off with an NAHL team like that, you get a young
goalie, a young defense and you build them up for next year.”
Miller helped make some key trades for the team early on, that have paid
dividends near the season’s end.
series,” says Lansing’s Gay. “The playoffs are looking like a good
possibility for us.”
older players who add experience to the club.
says Gay. “Those trades Kelly was involved in helping us make are big
the NHL and holds no ill feelings.
to be? It’s a step he needed to take if he wants to be a pro coach
someday,” he said. “It just kinda happened. The phone call came in and
he had to make a decision,” adds Gay.
and he speaks very highly of the league.
“They have a great atmosphere in Lansing and I really believe something
special can exist there. They’ve got a good hockey program there, and
they and other teams in the league will continue to be a great feeder
league for the next levels.”
MSU and one of the top college goaltenders in the country.
hockey out here and I get all of the MSU games on tape, to see how
everybody is doing,” he says.
surprised at his success.
says Miller. “He has the ability and intensity and I think, someday,
he’ll be a top goalie in the NHL too.”
some NHL club, someday, inserting cousin Ryan Miller into he net. Like
Kelly Miller’s quick jump to the NHL, it’s not out of the question.