Botchford: Miller signs but inevitable goalie controversy isn’t an ‘if,’ it’s a ‘when’
Vancouver Canucks' goalie Ryan Miller smiles during a news conference after he signed a three-year contract with the NHL hockey team in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday July 1, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Ryan Miller chose Vancouver as much as the Canucks chose him.
He’ll soon find out, right around his first three-game losing streak, if that was a wise decision or not.
He can mull it over when the fans are chanting, “Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!”
Vancouver, a desired destination for one of the biggest-name goaltenders on the market.
How was that possible?
His first picks were Anaheim and San Jose, but when they were out, Miller’s choices were limited.
He wants to play, and the Canucks are one of the few options where he’d have a clear shot at a No. 1 role and get $6 million per year.
Now with Luongo, Jacob Markstrom, Eddie Lack and Miller all on the payroll, the Canucks are set to spend $9.15 million on goalies next season.
Some things never change.
Miller does have comfort with Jim Benning, who drafted him.
It won’t be easy in Van City. Especially when his backup is set to be the impossible-to-dislike Eddie Lack, who was handed Roberto Luongo’s job last season and did just fine as a rookie as John Tortorella power-drilled him into the ice.
The inevitable goalie controversy isn’t an if, it’s a when.
Miller, however, must have had some extensive briefs already on what he’s getting himself into. His agent, Mike Liut, also represented Cory Schneider and understands better than most who live outside this city the challenges of playing net here.
It’s not easy and Liut knows it.
At least it hasn’t been for a long, long time.
Miller did not get rave reviews for how he handled his stint playing for the St. Louis Blues.
In the Blues’ first-round series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Miller had some uncomfortable interactions with the media. He stiffed reporters after losing Game 5 and he cut his last scrum short when he was asked a basic question about negotiations with St. Louis.
If he lets fans and media get to him, it’s going to be a long year.
Whether Miller has the personality to handle the No. 1 job in Vancouver remains to be seen.
On the other side, there shouldn’t be any doubts about how Lack will deal with what appears to be a demotion, and is obviously a very difficult situation.
When Miller’s deal is up, Lack will be 30 years old. The clock is ticking, and the Canucks may be forced yet again into trading a goalie.
You can expect Lack to handle this with grace.
The Canucks wanted to get Lack down to the 30-game range this year after Tortorella played him until the wheels came off. Tortorella started Lack 19 straight games after the Olympic break, and Lack ended the season injured.
Maybe he didn’t show that he can physically handle that type of workload — who can? But neither losses nor his injury could wipe that crooked smile off his face.
Of all the goalies to cycle through this market, Lack may have the best dispostion yet for dealing with the scrutiny.
That will be tested.
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