NESN Diary: Taking Time To Appreciate Kevan Miller (And Other Random Thoughts)

Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, will publish a diary full of random thoughts, opinions, takeaways, and other cool tidbits we’ve stumbled across in the absence of actual games. Because why not? We’re all in this together.

Kevan Miller deserves better than the hand he’s been dealt lately.

It’s been one injury and setback after another for the Boston Bruins defenseman over the last year-plus. And on a town hall with fans Thursday, he revealed he had another setback last month, undergoing another knee surgery.

The news he delivered was tough, but in a weird way it was good to hear from Miller himself — he’s always been thoughtful and insightful. He’s largely (and unsurprisingly) been out of the public eye during his injury rehab, so it’s rarely been clear where exactly he’s stood at different points.

Miller’s going to be a free agent following this season, and since he’s already been ruled out for the rest of the current campaign (if it even resumes) there’s a real chance we’ve seen the last of him in a Bruins jersey.

If that is the case, or even if it isn’t, let’s pause for a second and think about Miller’s journey.

He went undrafted, and managed to land an amateur tryout contact with Providence that resulted in six regular season games down the stretch of the 2010-11 AHL season. He went through some of the Bruins’ NHL training camp in 2011 before getting sent down, and it wasn’t until he played five games with Providence that October that he finally was signed to an entry-level contract.

Miller grinded in the minors for two full seasons before getting his first NHL opportunity in 2013, and we know how it goes from there. He became a useful NHL player, serving as a mainstay on Boston’s third defensive pairing.

It’s hard to believe sometimes that Miller has been with the organization for about nine years now, but he deserves a lot of credit for how he turned a big challenge out of college into a career as an everyday NHL player.

I always stop short of saying that if Miller was healthy last June the Bruins would’ve won the Stanley Cup, considering those generally aren’t won or lost based on the availability of a third-pairing defenseman. But there’s no question his presence was missed, and that’s remained the case throughout the current season.

There’s always the possibility Miller returns on a cheap deal, but if the salary cap remains the same due to COVID-19, Miller being willing to take the veteran minimum still might not be enough, especially with the number of defensive prospects the Bruins have.

Rarely do guys get to choose how they go out — either from a team or the game in general. But if this is it for Miller’s playing days in Boston, he deserves high marks for what he’s done over the last decade or so.

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Here are some other tidbits from Friday:

— I thought Boston Mayor Marty Walsh handled his comments about sports returning in Boston well.

He made clear there’s no chance of fans being in the stands at Fenway, and that the same goes for events at TD Garden. In a time where everyone is looking for some hope to cling to, delivering news that won’t be thoroughly enjoyed must be hard to do. But it needs to be done, and it was wise of him not to string those in the region.

— Three names reportedly are on ESPN’s radar for the Monday Night Football booth: Steve Levy, Dan Orlovsky and Louis Riddick.

It’s unclear if ESPN is considering going with a three-man booth, but if they are this would be a fantastic trio. Levy is a demonstrated pro who would handle the play-by-play duties, while Riddick and Orlovsky have deservedly become two of the network’s most well-respected analysts. They’re both insightful, thorough and can properly contextualize things for the average fan.

The MNF booth has been a train wreck the last few years. A Levy-Orlovsky-Riddick booth would go a long way in winning back football fans.

— So, soccer is back.

The German Bundesliga returns this weekend (for everything you need to know it’s return, click here), and frankly I couldn’t be more excited. As somebody who enjoys spending weekend mornings watching the English Premier League, being able to tune into major European league soccer Saturday is going to be a delightful feeling.

Tweet Of The Day:
This sounds lovely.

Stat Of The Day
And who could forget that two of those wins came during his illustrious eight-game run with the Red Sox in 2009?

Video Of The Day
Ah, what a time. Sports. David Ortiz. Fighting.

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Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

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