Miller returns with Wings after turbulent 48 hours
Boston — This wasn’t easy, and Drew Miller admitted as much.
Being waived Sunday, somewhat unexpectedly, and then wondering where he would be 24 hours later.
Maybe in another NHL city? In Grand Rapids, playing in the minor leagues?
Maybe right back with the Red Wings?
Who really knew?
Miller was waived Sunday when Niklas Kronwall was activated and the Red Wings had to clear room on the roster.
Ultimately, Miller did clear waivers, no team picked him up, and when injuries to Dylan Larkin and Thomas Vanek struck Sunday, Miller had a roster position waiting for him on the Red Wings.
“It’s definitely a tough time,” said Miller after Tuesday’s morning skate. “Any time you go on waivers, it’s not easy. But thing go on in this game, in the NHL, things happen quick, and I’m back here for now and I’m going to try to make the most of this opportunity.
“For me, it’s just going into a personal shell, push away the waivers and the uncertainty and play hockey. It’s all you can do and what you can control. That’s what I’m going to do. I’ve played a lot of games in this league and tonight will be just another one.”
Miller, 32, has played 550 games in the NHL, spent the last seven seasons in Detroit — he’s also from East Lansing and played at Michigan State — so potentially leaving the Red Wings wasn’t easy.
Being waived caught Miller by surprise, too.
Wings' Blashill: Hockey analytics of limited use so far
“A little bit,” Miller said. “Obviously if you’re going to go on waivers, you want to be picked up and that didn’t happen, whatever the circumstances. But those things you can’t worry about and go about your business and prepare.
“I’m back for now and I have an opportunity and I’ll try to make the most of it.”
Miller said coach Jeff Blashill told him he’d been waived Sunday, and then general manager Ken Holland followed with a phone call.
Blashill feels Miller can handle the toll of the last several days.
“Any time you go on a roller-coaster emotionally like that as a person, it’s hard,” Blashill said. “He didn’t know for 24 hours where he was going. I alerted him that there was a good chance, if he did clear, he would be with us because of the injuries, so he knew that.
“But it’s definitely a roller-coaster and it’s hard on people.”
The Red Wings plucked Miller off waivers in 2009 from Tampa Bay, so Miller has been through this process before.
“He’s been on roller coasters before, it’s been a while, but he’s had to go through stuff like this before as a pro,” Blashill said. “He’s a real mature person. He’s somebody who can handle it, and he’s got a real mature game.
“The one thing I told Drew when we made the decision to waive him was I had tons of confidence playing him, and that’s why I’ve played him lots. He can go in and be a real good player for us.”
Miller isn’t looking ahead, but just approaching Tuesday’s game in Boston and Wednesday’s game back home against Toronto before this weekend’s All-Star break.
Where Miller will be next week, at this point, is anyone’s guess.
“Hockey is a business and you have to continue to be yourself and not let a little thing like that set you back and dwell on it too much,” Miller said. “It’s over and done with and I’m back and playing and that’s my preparation.
“It’s definitely something that I’m not going to think about, (going to) Grand Rapids or the waivers thing, but just thinking about playing my game and contributing. You never know who is watching and you never know what’ll happen to the team here. Things change quick. So just stay positive and play my game and that’s all you can really do.
“They (the organization) have to worry about themselves and the injuries and all of that as of now. It is what it is.”
Goaltender Jared Coreau was scheduled to get the start Tuesday in Boston, with Petr Mrazek likely to get the start against Toronto.
Both have Blashill’s confidence currently, but Coreau has been able to earn points in seven consecutive decisions (5-0-2), something the Red Wings need right now.
On the flip side, Mrazek is 1-5-2 in his last eight decisions.
“Jared and Petr the last two games have played excellent,” Blashill said. “Both of those guys have played real well.
“Regarding Jared, the goaltending position, more than any other position in hockey, is result oriented. You can look good doing it but if you don’t stop the puck, it doesn’t matter. He has results over the last little bit and his game is in a position to be successful.”
Blashill said Larkin (upper body) is definitely out for Wednesday against Toronto, while Vanek (lower body) is unknown.
“I don’t have an answer on Vanek,” Blashill said. “Whether he’ll be available (Wednesday) for us, we’ll make that decision (Wednesday)."
...Tomas Jurco and Miller replaced Larkin and Vanek in Tuesday’s lineup.
Maple Leafs at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Joe Louis Arena
Outlook: Toronto (22-14-9, 53 points) has burst into a playoff position in the East, going 6-2-2 over its last 10 games…Toronto is excellent on special teams (ranked second on power play, fourth on penalty kill) and C Auston Matthews leads all rookies with 22 goals.