Kevan Miller appreciates Masterton nomination, opens up about toll injuries have taken

Scott McLaughlin
June 17, 2020 - 2:15 pm
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Kevan Miller was named the Bruins' nominee for the Masterton Trophy -- which goes to the NHL player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey" -- last week.

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On a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday, Miller discussed the nomination for the first time and opened up about the toll his knee injuries have taken.

Miller hasn't played since April of last season, when he suffered a broken kneecap. He tried to get back in time to contribute to the Bruins' playoff run, only to re-break the kneecap while rehabbing. The road didn't get a whole lot smoother after that, as he suffered several more setbacks during his recovery, the most recent of which forced him to undergo another surgery -- his fourth total -- in March that effectively ended any hope of returning before the end of this season.

"First I’d just like to say thank you to all who voted for me for (the Masterton)," Miller said. "Honestly it’s a true honor, and I truly appreciate the nomination and I’m hoping to persevere and live up to that nomination and be back on the ice, whenever that may be. I’m very, very thankful and grateful for all the support, my family, my teammates, the organization has given me through all this.

"It’s been a long haul. It’s taken a toll for sure. Mentally, physically, it’s definitely taken a toll. It’s been a long road, but I’m trying to keep things in perspective. I’m able to walk around and spend some time with family and starting to exercise again and starting to feel a little bit somewhat normal again. I’m hoping to get back to 100 percent and rejoin the team at some point and get back to playing hockey."

Miller said he hasn't gotten to a point where he's ever thought about giving up and not playing again, but he acknowledged that the mental toll at times has been even tougher to overcome than the physical one, and he said that might be the tougher hurdle to clear when it ultimately comes time to play again.

"I think the biggest mental challenge for me is just getting healthy between the ears," Miller said. "It’s taken some toll on me for sure. There’s physical trauma, there’s also mental trauma. I’ll be honest with you about that. I think the mental side of it for me is just like, ‘Hey, I’m not injured anymore. That year and four months, year and five months, whatever it’s been, is now behind me.’ Feeling 100 percent again is probably going to feel pretty abnormal to me right now, so I think that’s probably going to be the biggest challenge."

Miller said there's also been a mental toll as it relates to raising a family. His daughter turned two in December, just after Miller had undergone another procedure on his knee, and his wife gave birth to their son in January.

"It’s less of a worry of ‘Are things going to be OK’ or things like that. It’s more, there is an actual connection between physical trauma and mental trauma," Miller said. "When you have an injury and it persists this long, it takes a toll between your ears. We had our son, he was born in January. I had a procedure at the beginning of December.

"So my wife’s pregnant, and we also have a two-year-old daughter, and a son on the way, and here I am on crutches struggling to get around. My wife has our son. It’s tough to be there for your kids when you’re not able to really do as much as you would like. Be there for your wife, be there for your kids, be present, those are the types of things. It’s beyond just the actual physical trauma, but the trauma of there’s a lot going on on my side with my family, and that takes a toll. I’m at the point now where I can certainly help around the house a lot more and do more of that, and that’s one of the big aspects for me personally. That was the hardest thing to overcome."

Miller is an unrestricted free agent after this season, and obviously all these injuries and missing a whole season leave him in a tough situation in terms of his next contract, but Miller said he's not even thinking about that right now.

"To be honest with you, I haven’t had any discussions with my agent," Miller said. "I’m sure my agent has had discussions with the Bruins. They talk. I don’t really want to have to deal with that right now. I just want to focus on being healthy off the ice and once I’m able to do that, I can start to think about on-ice stuff. That’s just my goal, to get back to 100 percent healthy off the ice, and then I can worry about on the ice."

Miller is in Colorado now. He had two of his surgeries there and said he was able to get more hands-on physical therapy out there with things being more shut down in Massachusetts. He said he anticipates staying there for more physical therapy, but that he would love to get a chance to be around his Bruins teammates at some point once they're back on the ice if it makes sense for him and is safe enough for all involved.

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Miller, who has supported military and police in the past, was asked about his thoughts on the murder of George Floyd and the protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Here is his answer in full:

"First and foremost, I stand firmly behind my teammates and the organization and the statements they’ve made, the courageous statements they’ve made. I think everybody loves to hear and loves to see that there is a conversation that needs to be had and there is some change that needs to happen. What happened to Mr. Floyd, in my opinion, was extremely hard to see and disgusting to watch. You take the past of the officer out, the past of Mr. Floyd out, and just look at the act itself, it’s just disgusting.

"Personally, I think that 99.99 percent of people in the United States and around the world saw that and are in total agreeance with me and feel the same way that I do and saw that as an act that just can’t happen and shouldn’t happen, especially nowadays. It’s unfortunate. The time we’re going through, I think it’s necessary to have some real good, open conversations and change.

"Also for me, though, I look at what happened to Mr. Floyd and then some of the acts afterwards with riots and protests, and I think that the protests are necessary. It’s part of our first amendment rights. It’s right in the Constitution. I’m in full support of that and I think that the majority of people that are protesting are doing it in a very good way.

"It’s unfortunate that some of those protests have turned into riots and kind of clouded what happened. And that’s what is frustrating, is that those 99.99 percent of people were all on the same page, they saw that and said, ‘This is wrong,’ and we should all use this as a rallying cry together, and I think unfortunately it’s gone the other way and in my opinion it’s become a divisive issue, where it should be one where it brings everyone together.

"As far as the military and police and first responder support goes, I don’t view one life as more meaningful than another. I think that what happened to Mr. Floyd was terrible and then you see some of the acts afterwards with police officers and citizens being killed during some of these riots, and I just think the value of life in this country can go up on all scales. Race aside, I think the value of life and love for people and love for your neighbor and one another needs to go up. That’s just my view.

"I try to, it’s almost strange for me nowadays, you can’t say one thing and be on both sides. You can’t say ‘I support Black Lives Matter and I also support the police’ and not be on one side. I think that that is wrong. I think that it’s unfortunate that that’s the case. I hope that that changes, and I think it will. People are mad, and they have the right to be mad, and I’m mad. A lot of people saw that and it’s not OK. I think it needs to be, it should’ve been, I wish it would’ve been a rallying cry for real change in one direction rather than saying you’re either with us or against us. I just think it’s unfortunate, and I hope and pray it goes the other way, and I think it will. I believe in the American spirit and I believe people truly care about one another, and I think in time it’s going to cause some really good change, not just in our sport, but throughout the country. And I’m looking forward to seeing brighter days to come."

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