By Mike Harrington
Since he arrived Nov. 13, interim coach Ted Nolan has made no secret of his desire to keep Ryan Miller and not trade him. Miller's status was again a topic at Sabres practice in the wake of the seven-year, $59.5 million contract extension Henrik Lundqvist inked today with the New York Rangers, Buffalo's opponent here Thursday night.
Is Miller, a pending unrestricted free agent, an asset to use in a trade or a building block? Nolan definitely said he favors the latter.
"You look at all championship teams, and it starts from the goaltending out," Nolan said. "You build around him vs. using him as a pawn to try to get something to make you better. You learn to deal with the now as a coach. You've got one of the better goaltenders in the world here. I'd like to build around him."
Nolan said as a coach he doesn't talk specifically to players about contracts and the like. Still, he said he has talked openly with president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine about the culture he wants created around the Sabres.
"I talked to Pat about this and I said, ‘The one thing we want to do is create an environment where people want to come here and stay here,''' Nolan said. "So hopefully he likes what we’re doing and you never know.”
Miller was unavailable for comment today. He had already departed the building when reporters entered the locker room and a Sabres spokesman apologized for Miller's absence, which was for a previously scheduled personal commitment. (Miller often has post-practice meetings in the days leading up to his annual Catwalk for Charity event, which is scheduled for Dec. 15).
Miller does not normally speak on gamedays after the morning skate, but may make an exception tomorrow because of his absence today.
Nolan's comments on Miller came near the end of his seven-minute session with the media today, which you can listen to below: