It is never easy to be the father of a 3-year-old.
But it can be a bit more trying when work keeps you traveling. Ryan Miller has found that out. He's finishing a five-game road trip on the East Coast for the Anaheim Ducks, and his son, Bodhi, hasn't been pleased with his absence. Seems the precocious kid already knows how to utilize the unreliability of cross-country communication.
"You realize how much kids need their parents when you're on the road like this," Miller said. "The last two or three days he's been a little bit mad at me. FaceTime hasn't been going so well. There's been a lot of poor connections."
Bohdi will say "poor connection" then end the call, Miller said. "You kinda laugh about it. It just makes the time you're together, you do take advantage of it."
Family time was one of the primary reasons why Miller decided to sign with Anaheim. His wife, Noureen DeWulf, is an actress and California has been the family's home even as Miller played the last three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. His two-year deal with the Ducks gives two more cracks at Stanley Cup and, age at 37, he still is one of the most consistent netminders in the game.
Miller began his professional hockey career with the Buffalo Sabres, drafted by the franchise in 1999. He was with the Sabres through February 2014 when he and Steve Ott were dealt to the St. Louis Blues.
He's only played against the Sabres in Buffalo once before – with the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 7, 2015, when he let in three goals in a 3-2 loss to his former team.
Tuesday night was a better performance in the visitors' net for Miller as he made 30 saves in the Anaheim Ducks' 4-3 overtime win over the Sabres in KeyBank Center.
It was a key win for Miller who dropped his last two decisions. He gave up six goals on 39 shots Monday as the Ducks lost, 7-4, to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. That came on the heels of Saturday's loss when he was pulled in Montreal after giving three goals on seven shots.
Miller did give up a goal with 15 seconds in regulation, a one-timer by Ryan O'Reilly that tied the game and sent it to overtime, but overall he was pleased with his performance.
"It was quiet in the second but I felt good in the first, felt good in the third," Miller said. "They got the nice pop-play for the one-timer. Didn't quite see it develop. Other than that, I felt like I was in a little more control. I had a rough couple of outings. I'll take anything I can get tonight, but I was happier with my game tonight. It was a little quieter than it was the other nights."
What's allowed Miller to enjoy career longevity has been his attitude toward those hiccups.
"You go out, put it behind you, and you just keep playing," Miller said. "That's pretty much how you get through a season and you make a career of it, is you keep doing your job and that's the approach you have to take."
That approach has allowed Miller to enjoy career longevity in the NHL. In 727 career games he has a 2.61 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. With Anaheim his numbers are spot-on – a 2.67 goals-against and a .915 save percentage.
So Miller could reasonably play in the NHL until he's 40 years old. But whether that's what he wants to do is a constant conversation for him with his family.
"Most of the people I talked to who are retired said make them kick you out," Miller said. "But there's going to be a balancing point. Coming to California, a big part of it was trying to move more toward the middle. ... This career is very selfish in that your schedule is set. You're just gone. You don't have a sick day or can call in or take a week off. There's not a lot of flexibility.
"California was more a move toward the middle where there's more family time. It definitely has been something that has become vastly more important to me in the last couple years so we'll evaluate things more into next year."
Because while Miller is home more often these days, there are some things he misses. Like Bodhi's flair for the dramatic when it comes to staging his own hockey game, which seems to perfectly combine personality traits of both his parents.
"He loves hockey. He's into the theater of it all where he's a forward one second and a goalie the next," Miller said. "Noureen said that he parked his scooter outside the kitchen, went to the locker room, got changed, and came out for some hockey so he's got the whole thing down, (including) driving to the rink. I think she was trying to convince him to take a nap before the game, too, so she could get a little down time.
"It's been fun. We're just like any other family, we're trying to make things fun and teach him the things that we know. He knows a lot about hockey. He does have a dramatic side so I'm sure that comes from Noureen."