Deep down, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller knows he should be happy with the silver medal he earned with Team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
But he also knows how easily it could have been gold.
“Everybody in that room, we knew we could win,” Miller recalled Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where Team USA is conducting its 2014 Olympic orientation camp.
“It just didn’t work out and it was disappointing.
“It’s not a sore subject for me anymore, but it’s definitely bittersweet. It was a great two weeks and it was a lot of fun to play hockey at a high level in such a great place, where they respect hockey. But at the same time it wasn’t a fairy tale ending. You kind of trudge on and hope for your next opportunity.”
For the past four years Miller, now 33, has been trudging on. Since allowing that gold medal-clinching overtime goal to Sidney Crosby [watch it here], Miller has been to the Stanley Cup playoffs just twice and the Sabres have lost in the first round both times.
He says Crosby’s goal, which came off a give-and-go pass from Jarome Iginla and beat him between the pads, no longer haunts him.
“No, it’s not something I want to beat myself up about,” Miller said. “I played the tournament aggressively. I saw an opportunity. He obviously didn’t mishandle the puck, but the puck came into his skates on the pass.
“I thought he was going to change his angle and he didn’t. I made a decision that I anticipated something to happen and it didn’t happen. I made a mistake and it went in the net.
“No one feels worse than I did. You get over it and keep playing.”
On Monday several Team USA personnel, including director of player personnel Brian Burke, noted that the Americans beat Team Canada one week earlier in the 2010 Olympic tournament, fulfilling Burke’s earlier assertion that the U.S. was in Vancouver to win.
“Brian wasn’t blowing hot air,” Miller said. “Sometimes he does, but he was serious about that. It took a while for everybody else to catch up and know we could do it.”
For many Olympic athletes redemption is never an option. Miller is the oldest player attending the U.S. Olympic orientation camp, joined by fellow goalies Jonathan Quick, Craig Anderson, Cory Schneider, Jimmy Howard and John Gibson.
He says he is looking forward to writing a new chapter in USA Hockey’s history, not exercising the ghosts of 2010.
“I’m not going to look at this as a continuation of 2010,” Miller said. “This is 2014, a fresh tournament. I think we have a team that can win a gold medal and it’s the same outlook as we had last time. We went there to win and we’re going to go there to win this time.”