Okay, so the booing and the Bronx cheers got to the players. Steve Ott chose to address his disagreement with it publicly during his interviews, and against the Rangers, Ryan Miller briefly lost his composure on the ice and mock-saluted the crowd's jeers. (I will admit that until this year, I assumed the players did not hear, or at least didn't internalize crowd noise/jeers etc. as well as they clearly do. I know whenever I play sports, especially hockey, I'm vaguely aware of cheers/jeers or crowd noise, I guess--but not really. I guess it makes a difference between 30 people vs 18,000.)
My theory is the booing is more directly related to the inflated expectations the fans had after the Pegula Era began, rather than a direct verbal assault on Ryan Miller (or really any one player). I'm not local anymore, and not at the games in person, for those of you who are; what do you think? My impression was always that the booing came during really poor team play, rather than an individual miscue. Anyway, to my larger point:
To me, Ryan Miller is not the problem. My feeling is, after watching every game this season, without Miller--they wouldn't have even sniffed playoff contention- and would've taken Florida's spot in the basement. He kept the Sabres relevant for as long as they were. So, I don't fully understand all the vitriol against Miller specifically that is being reported by the various media outlets. Vogl was tweeting the Patrick Roy comparison, almost in real time; and made sure to jab Miller with it post-game. And since, pretty much all the articles have had the same "Miller may be gone"....or "How can Miller play again at home?" slant to them. Is this a media creation, guys? (I know he can be a moody SOB at times, and I wonder if the relationship between Miller and the Buff media has just soured to the point that it's only making things appear worse.)
I can't help but start thinking about the parallels to Hasek's time in Buffalo.
If Ryan Miller does indeed leave after this season, it will be hard not to compare him to Hasek. Twice then, the Buffalo Sabres will have had an elite netminder leave town under duress, with no Cups and a soured relationship with the media.
How will us fans feel if Miller's career continues to parallel Hasek's after Buffalo? Cups with another team? Maybe they both end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame wearing another team's sweater?
Of course, it hasn't happened yet and may not, and there are many differences (that I'm sure will be quickly pointed out) between Miller and Hasek's time in Buffalo. ***Believe me, I know. It's not the same situation exactly. But still, if Miller does leave, do we want the booing and the mock-salute and the flubbed clearing attempt to be the last things he and we remember? Is the booing directed at him or has he just become a media lightning rod? Are the fans truly tired enough of his post-game commentary to wish him out of town? What do you guys think about this?