Ryan Miller, his eyes and smile both gleaming with excitement, stared at his Vezina Trophy and marveled at the names on it. Jacques Plante. Ken Dryden. Dominik Hasek. Martin Brodeur. They are members of hockey royalty, and the Buffalo Sabres' goaltender was truly honored to join them.
"I'm looking at all these names, and it's pretty amazing, the history on this trophy," Miller said. "To get my name on there is pretty cool."
Miller had a night to remember Wednesday in the Palms Hotel and Casino, winning his first Vezina as top goaltender and the NHL Foundation Player Award for his work in the community. Miller also was named First Team All-Star. He was joined on the podium by Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, who won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year.
Miller was a Vezina finalist for the first time in his five full seasons in the league, and it was deserved. The 29-year-old went 41-18-8, and his 2.22 goals-against average and .929 save percentage both ranked second in the league.
"It's definitely something that reflects well on my teammates and the ability to adapt and grow a defensive game," Miller said. "As an organization they've been outstanding, and the fan base is also outstanding. They're rabid hockey fans, so every night they expect you to be on your best. I think that helps you as a player."
Miller became the fifth Sabres goalie to get his name on the Vezina. Hasek won the award six times from between 1994 and 2001, and Tom Barrasso earned the honor in 1984. Don Edwards and Bob Sauve shared the award in 1980 when it was given to the team that allowed the fewest goals.
"It's great company," Miller said. "I've looked up to those goaltenders. As a kid I remember getting packs of playing cards, and they always had the award nominees. It's so cool. My heroes are on here, so this is pretty amazing."
Miller earned 23 first-place votes from the league's general managers, while Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov was second with five.
The NHL Foundation Player Award began following the 1997-98 season as a way to recognize players' off-ice contributions to their communities. Miller has raised more than $500,000 for his Steadfast Foundation, which benefits those affected by cancer, especially childhood forms of the disease. He also works with Carly's Club and Women and Children's Hospital.
The NHL will donate $25,000 to the Steadfast Foundation as part of the award.
Myers became the third Buffalo player to win the Calder. Barrasso won in 1984 as part of his Vezina season, and Gilbert Perreault earned the honor in 1971.
"It's definitely nice to be put in that group of guys," Myers said. "Even to be put in the group of rookies this year is enough for me. I was just happy to come and be in Vegas, win or lose. So far it's been a great experience. To be able to walk on stage, I'll never forget it."
Myers won in a landslide. He had 1,178 points, 400 more than runner-up Jimmy Howard of Detroit. Myers collected 94 first-place votes, while Howard had 24. Colorado's Matt Duchene had 12 first-place votes.
"Those two guys had seasons where they could have easily been walking out there just as much as I could have," Myers said. "I didn't have any idea, but when they did call my name, it was a relief."
It was also a little confusing. Presenter Mark Wahlberg announced Tie Domi as the winner before saying Myers' name.
"I was confused, but it was pretty funny," said Myers, who led all rookies with 37 assists and was third with 48 points. "It hasn't really sunk in. It's been fun the past two days and this past year, and I want to continue that."
Myers earned an honor before the show began. He was one of six players named to the 2009-10 All-Rookie team, joining Howard, defenseman Michael Del Zotto and forwards Niclas Bergfors of Atlanta, Duchene and John Tavares of the Islanders.
"It means a lot," Myers said. "It's a big honor as well to be put in a group with those guys."
The night's biggest award -- the Hart Trophy given to the league's Most Valuable Player -- went to Vancouver's Henrik Sedin. He received 46 first-place votes, six more than runner-up Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. Miller was fourth in the voting, collecting 13 first-place votes.
Sidney Crosby won the Mark Messier Leadership Award over Miller and fellow nominee Shane Doan. Chicago's Duncan Keith won the Norris as top defenseman, and Phoenix's Dave Tippett won the Jack Adams as top coach. Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis ended Pavel Datsyuk's four-year run with the Lady Byng as most gentlemanly player, but the Red Wings' center collected his third straight Selke Trophy as top defensive forward.
No one, though, seemed as happy as Miller.
"It feels really good to walk away with this award," he said.