Rewind to a year ago, and it would’ve been hard to believe Kevan Miller not only would be playing at this point, but also playing an important role for the Boston Bruins.
You know the story by now. Miller was out for substantial chunks of the 2018-19 season before missing all of the 2019 playoffs and 2019-20 campaign due to knee issues that required multiple surgeries. Slowly but surely, he got back on the ice and has again been a staple on the Bruins’ third line.
He’s a heavy player, and one that has proven he’ll never back down from a challenge. His teammates respect him for that, but also admit they’re a little afraid of him.
“That he’s a scary dude and he’s still a scary dude,” Bruins center Charlie Coyle said over Zoom on Wednesday when asked what he thought about Miller before coming to Boston and what he knows about him now.
“He was always tough to play against, and you see it in his eyes. He’s a tough competitor, he does it all, he battles hard, plays hard-nosed, and he’s a heck of a player too. He’s got a lot of skill to go with that grit. But he’s just a warrior, we all know what he’s been through — actually, we don’t know what he’s been through — but we’ve seen from an outside perspective it’s unbelievable what he does day-in and day-out.
“So to have a guy like that of that character, that leadership. That’s unbelievable to have on your team and be able to watch every day. He brings so much to our team, playing or not. Playing hurt or not, playing healthy, whatever it is, that’s Kevan Miller. And he’s just an awesome guy, any team would want him.”
Miller has taken on a de facto role of being a mentor for younger defensemen. He provided that with Matt Grzelcyk, and did so with Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril, as well. Lately, it’s been Connor Clifton.
“Obviously, his dedication and perseverance, going through something like that the past two years, it’s awesome to see (him come back) and witness,” Clifton said. “I didn’t spend much time with him before he went down with that injury, but honestly I feel pretty grateful that he’s back and I get to learn from him and play with him the last game and tonight. Back when I was in (Providence) he was a guy I looked up to, just the way he carries himself and prepares for practices and games is just a testament to the kind of guy he is.
“I’m happy I’m his teammate and not the other way around, that’s for sure.”