By Mike Harrington
Been reading all over the Internet late this afternoon about Ryan Miller's flameout Sunday in Chicago and it was certainly an epic one, as I discussed in my column in Monday's editions.
Miller said after the game he liked St. Louis and the team and would be interested in returning but has not had any serious talks with the Blues. It would seem his hopes of getting a Henrik Lundqvist-type contract of seven years and roughly $60 million are toast.
Hard to imagine the Blues or anyone else would go much past 3-4 years. Candidates that jump out to me include the Ducks, Sharks, Flyers, Penguins and Islanders. Hard to see a great fit. Several of those teams already have goalies or good prospects.
There was zero negative chatter in the Blues locker room about Miller, as you would expect. The team's lack of offense was far more of a talking point.
"Ryan works his butt off," said Blues captain and fellow U.S. Olympian David Backs. "He's a consummate professional and a guy you love having on your team. Some of the plays, tips in front, I don't think it matters who's in the net. They made some good plays."
"It definitely wasn't Millsie," said Steve Ott, who said he was looking for a goaltender interference call on Chicago's second goal. "He kept us in every single night."
Obviously, most people watching would disagree. Miller wasn't nearly good enough (.897 save percentage) but the Blues weren't beating anybody with 14 goals in six games, no matter who was in the net.
For his part, Ott was stunned by the sudden end to the Blues' season.
"It's a numb feeling. It's never fun when you expect to win a Cup," the former Sabres captain said. "Let's be honest. That's what was expected out of us. We didn't get the job done but it's close here, exciting at the same time knowing the hunger is going to be there.
"It sucks. I thought I'd have a chance to hoist with all of us in here and you're out in the first round against a strong opponent. The matchup of these two 100-point teams going at it, it's a shame one of us could have been knocked off. ... It's tough to see that when it probably should be a Western Conference final matchup."
Ott was asked how strange it feels to suddenly be plunged into free-agent mode and admitted his career is suddenly uncertain after he went 29 games with the Blues counting playoffs, didn't score and was minus-15.
"I don't know what my situation is. It's way too early to even think about that," he said."I don't want to think about that. I'm still thinking I'm running for a Cup right now."
The market for Ott? Another interesting one. The Sabres almost certainly will get involved but at what price. Perhaps 2-3 years and $3-4 million a year? Somebody has to get paid, remember.