Some eight weeks out from his latest knee surgery, Kevan Miller says he’s looking forward to playing again.
“I’m still rehabbing,” the Bruins defenseman said Thursday during a question-and-answer session with season ticket-holders. “I was on a good trajectory there, skating and whatnot, then had a setback.”
Miller, who hasn’t played since April 4, 2019, because of a twice-broken kneecap, remains buoyant amid some rotten luck. He first broke his right kneecap while crashing into the boards in Minnesota, in the Bruins’ penultimate game of last season. Nearing a return for the Stanley Cup Final, he broke it again, and more seriously.
He had to watch his teammates lose Game 7 to the Blues on home ice.
“God, I wish I could have [helped],” said Miller, who was frank and open during the chat. “It definitely keeps me awake at night still.”
And he spent this season getting close again, only to get knocked back down. His most recent surgery, apparently in late March, leaves his Bruins career in even greater doubt.
In a call with reporters on April 10, general manager Don Sweeney said Miller wouldn’t be healthy to play even if the season resumed this summer. However, he left open the possibility that the ex-Vermont captain, who doesn’t have a contract for 2020-21, could be re-signed.
“We’ll entertain the opportunity to bring Kevan back,” Sweeney said. “He’ll also entertain whether he wants to come back.”
Miller’s combination of age (32), recent injury history, and uncertainty surrounding the salary cap makes it possible that the Bruins could move on. The rugged Miller, who signed as an undrafted college free agent in 2011, greatly improved his skating and skill to become a regular NHLer. His most recent deal was for four years and $10 million. But he was limited to 39 games in 2018-19.
He’s off crutches and has done most of his rehab in Boston, and at his Charlestown pad.
“It’s been a little bit different, having to rehab mostly at home,” he said. “But thankfully — I guess if you want to call it thankfully — I’ve been accustomed to having most of the stuff that I need at home right now, to make sure things are moving along. I’m feeling good now, and back on the train to get my knee healthy again.”
When asked about the possibility of playing in front of empty stands, most players interviewed during the pause have commented how strange it might be. Not Miller.
“You don’t really look into the stands. I don’t want to downplay the fans, but I’ll be honest, you get so involved in the game, so much of that is tuned out,” he said, adding that playing a playoff game without a crowd would indeed be weird. “Me personally, I think five, six, seven minutes into a regular-season game it would be back to business as usual.”
He’d love to get back to business as usual.