Top 5: Ryan Miller Jerseys
Earlier this season Ryan Miller passed fellow former Sabre Dominik Hasek on the NHL’s all-time wins list, taking the #14 spot with 390 career victories. Back in 2019 he passed John Vanbeiesbrouck to become the winningest American-born goaltender of all-time. And oh yeah, he’s also won a Vezina Trophy, been an All-Star and won an Olympic MVP award.
He’s had an illustrious career, and at age 40 we might be witnessing his final season as hints of retirement have popped up over the past year or so. So, time to reflect —which of Ryan Miller’s numerous jerseys will take the top spot?
In terms of jerseys, Miller has had a colorful career. From Buffalo and Team USA to Vancouver and Anaheim (with a brief stint in St. Louis) he’s had the opportunity to wear a number of unique jerseys. He’s also had impeccable goalie gear style as well. And full disclaimer: like it or not, his gear style definitely influences these rankings. In most cases, his pads and mask designs do exactly what they should do—enhance the overall uniform by complimenting color palettes and creating an entirely cohesive look. So let’s get started…
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Everything Buffalo Sabres (2002-2014)
There’s no doubt that Miller’s Hall of Fame-worthy career will be defined by his high level of success with the Sabres. Unfortunately, there was very little success in terms of the multitude of jerseys he had to sport during his reign in Buffalo.
In only about a dozen years, the franchise’s visual identity was like a rebranding ping pong ball…and they just couldn’t get out of their own way. Miller started out in the black and red “goat head” Sabres look and then had to endure the infamous “Buffaslug” logo era. From there the Sabres attempted to return to their roots via a modified version of the original logo, but couldn’t resist the urge to tack on additional accents, way too many stripes, superfluous piping details and odd third jerseys.
Some of this could be chalked up to the era of the early 2000’s, but for the most part it was pretty much swings and misses. All of those misses are now magnified by how great the current Sabres look…jersey-wise, not talking “winning games”-wise.
As we get into the top 5, it’s pretty easy to see why nothing from Miller’s Buffalo tenure made the list.
Remember when I said this list would be influenced by Miller’s gear style? Case in point as we kick things off with #5 on the list. By itself, the current Ducks home jersey is OK, but Miller’s mask and pads elevate it to an entirely different level.
First, the mask is elite and perfect for a current Ducks goalie. The jersey and pads are predominantly black and are accented nicely with white, orange and gold throughout; very cohesive overall and a look that really pops. Bonus points for the retro graphics on the Vaughn pads, and double bonus points for successfully mixing gear brands (Vaughn and CCM)…something that’s pretty rare for NHL goalies these days, but common for Miller.
Checking in at #4 on the list is the previous version of the Canucks 3rd/retro jersey and a much better execution compared to their current iteration. This one, worn from ‘08-’17, features the “stick-in-rink” primary logo paired with a more traditional striping pattern on the sleeves and tail. The combination of royal blue, white and kelly green typically works very well together and this jersey is no exception. It’s classic, well-balanced and looks sharp.
This jersey also featured a fantastic Johnny Canuck/V shoulder patch that complimented the chest logo nicely. Vancouver has always criminally underused the Johnny Canuck logo, so it was nice to see a version of it get a nearly decade-long run, even if it was only as a shoulder patch on a third jersey. As the NHL and adidas continue to evolve jerseys, here’s to hoping ole Johnny Canuck gets a little more spotlight on a future alternate jersey.
This one is bound to be polarizing, as this 25th anniversary Ducks jerseys had some fans loving it and some fans hating it. It was essentially a mash-up composed mostly of the original Anaheim jersey fused with elements of current Ducks branding.
For those that disapproved, the argument was, “Why not just go full, original retro?!” But for those that approved, it was a welcomed modern take on the classic Mighty Ducks look. With a base color of black, it featured the unique diagonal striping of teal and purple (or eggplant and jade if we’re reading the creative brief) along with the original and iconic Mighty Ducks primary logo. The current winged foot D logo served as a shoulder patch along with the current font for the numbering and names. Additionally, the crossed hockey sticks in the logo were adjusted to orange as another tie-in to current team branding. The jersey somehow finds a way to squeeze in all seven colors the Ducks had sported at some point in their 25 year history, and surprisingly enough it still looks cohesive and well executed. For a one-season stint these anniversary jerseys fit the bill…pun intended.
Plus, and cue the broken record, in Ryan Miller’s case his corresponding mask and gear just makes the jersey look so much better. Obviously, the Duck mask with the teal eyes steals the show, but the pads also do an excellent job of extending the look of the jersey by incorporating a well balanced mix of black, teal and purple.
Based on Team USA’s 1960 gold-medal winning jersey, Team USA sported these retros in both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games. It’s a jersey that has stood the test of time: it’s classic red, white and blue and it’s glorious. Simple execution that’s done so well via traditional sleeve and tail striping paired with the blue shoulder yokes. The drop shadowed block type USA runs diagonally across the chest and is accented perfectly by the US shield on the left shoulder. It’s bold, iconic and really everything you’d ever want in an Olympic jersey.
Plus, during the 2010 Olympics the only thing that was more elite than this jersey was Miller’s play in net. After posting a 1.35 GAA and a .945 save percentage he was named the Olympic Games Most Valuable Player. He also took home first team all-star honors and the award for best goaltender to go along with Team USA’s Silver Medal.
Now granted, I know the 2010 Olympics are best remembered for that one overtime goal that Sidney Crosby scored…but Miller was truly at the top of his game for the entire tourney and he made a ton of American hockey fans proud. An iconic jersey and one heck of a run between the pipes lands this one the Silver Medal on our countdown.
Attention all goalies! This is how you’re supposed to look…this is the complete package. Once again, we have a jersey on the countdown that garners a wide variety of opinions, and this one lands at the number one spot no less. However, and you were warned from the get go, Miller’s gear setup plays a significant role in this ranking.
First, this particular Canucks jersey has been covered numerous times on Hockey by Design. From our Worst to First rankings to the 50th Anniversary Season jerseys and even the Alexander Mogily Top 5, it has a unique perception amongst both Vancouver fans and hockey fans in general. Every time we cover this jersey the recurring theme is simple: it’s just full-blown nostalgia. There’s no doubt that the fondness toward this jersey is tied to the most successful era of the franchise, so by that association alone hockey fans hold it in great reverence.
As we’ve noted before, the jersey itself is OK…not necessarily great or groundbreaking. If we as designers were re-creating the logo today we’d definitely make some adjustments to help with legibility and correct some negative space issues. In spite of these critiques, this jersey somehow holds a long-lasting mysterious power. Maybe it’s the boldness of so much black and how the yellow and red pops so well? Or maybe it was that 1994 run to the Stanley Cup Final that keeps these coming back again and again.
Now, let’s get to the real reason these take the top spot when it comes to Ryan Miller…
Just look at this photo. Now, look at it some more. Maybe even hang it in the Louvre. I dare to say this is a perfect execution of a retro jersey and corresponding mask and gear to match. Simple, yet so sharp. From head to toe ties, this look is elite. Goalies in all black will always look cool and intimidating and Miller’s gear setup puts an exclamation point on that argument.
In an era where the vast majority of goaltenders sport white pads with very little color paired with overly complex and detailed mask designs this is a welcome break to that norm. From a design perspective it all works so well together. The black-based pads, blocker and glove replicate the red and yellow accents to form a seamless extension of the jersey.
The mask, painted by Bishop Designs, harkens back to 90’s era mask designs with a great execution of clean, bold graphics. The striping pattern also mimics the old Vancouver flying V, another nice incorporation of retro Canucks branding.
Overall it’s truly a complete look and all elements considered are the reason it takes our top spot.
So there you have it, our rundown of Ryan Miller’s top 5 jerseys. Plus, and somewhat unique to this particular countdown, a nice dose of goalie gear talk as well.
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