January 16, 2014

Brandon Miller Hoping to Play in '14

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

After several seasons with the wings, Miller is hoping to return to the floor this winter. (Larry Palumbo)

No, Brandon Miller has not retired.

NLL fans might think the veteran goaltender has packed it in because we've not seen him stopping shots in a league game since last April when the Philadelphia Wings' season wound up. Recently-acquired Evan Kirk in the nets for a win in Buffalo on opening night of Dec. 28 and there's no indication Miller will be in the Wings' lineup anytime soon.

''It's hard to say,'' Miller replied when we asked him when he might resume his NLL career. ''I'm asking myself that question, too.''

Miller, 34, has been in the NLL since 2001 and spent the last 5 1-2 seasons with the Wings. The team gave him the franchise player tag last autumn to remove the possibility he might be lured away by another team as an unrestricted free agent. But contract talks reached an impasse.

''We're kind of in a bit of a stalemate,'' he says. ''It's upsetting. At 34, I don't need to be going through this. It's just the way things have shaken down.''

He declined to go into specifics about what the catch is in negotiations.

Will we see him on the NLL's green carpets at all this season?

''I really don't know,'' he says.

There's no questioning his desire to play.

''I definitely want to play,'' he says. ''At the same time, I'm no different than anybody else who has a lot going on at home and wants the right situation (in contract terms). The fire still burns, especially after the Mann Cup.''

Miller's role in the Canadian senior amateur championship won by the Six Nations Chiefs last September was immense. Kirk was the Chiefs' other goalie and started the best-of-seven series. When the team faltered, it turned to Miller, and they won four straight to take the title. Miller was sure after that experience that he could go into a new NLL season and have one of his best pro campaigns. It hasn't happened _ not yet.

''I'm just hoping circumstances will change to allow me to get back out there,'' he says.

He watched the Wings' surprisingly decisive win on the 28th.

''I could tell it was the same as it's been the last four or five years,'' he said. ''All the experts write the Wings off and say they'll be at the bottom of the league but there's a lot of character guys on that team. Philly has always prided itself in proving people wrong.''

He lauds the additions of forwards Tracy Kelusky and Ryan Ward.

Game outcomes are as unpredictable as ever, says the Orangeville, Ontario, resident.

''You wouldn't want to bet your house on a game because you'd probably lose it.''

The losers so far this season are the fans as they've not had the chance to watch one of pro lacrosse's best goalies do his thing.

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