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Reduced Ice Time? Doesn’t Matter, Canucks Miller is Absolutely All Business

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Vancouver Canucks, JT Miller
Vancouver Canucks centre J.T. Miller speaking from his home in Pittsburgh.

When Canucks forward J.T. Miller, a native of Pittsburgh, was asked about playing in Canada or spending time in Vancouver and being attracted by all things BC, there was no waxing poetic about the beautiful mountainsides or spending time exploring or really anything about lifestyle. The man means business. On-ice hockey business.

When answering questions on Tuesday morning from the media for 23-minutes, Miller applied everything about his Vancouver existence to finding success on the ice. He’ll arrive this Saturday to begin preparation for the season while his wife Natalie, a mother for a third time last week with the birth of son Owen, will stay back in Pennsylvania with family until after the Canucks season-opening five-game road trip.

“I think we’re going to hit the ground running and surprise a lot of people this year,” Miller said, “and at the end of the day it’s a business and it’s work and I want to be where we’re going to have a good hockey team. We have a lot of things to be excited about in Vancouver and I’m a family guy and I like to spend time at home, but it doesn’t really matter how far away that is at this point, I just want to win and I want to be a place where we feel comfortable, and we have good relationships, and we kind of have all three of those there.”

Miller talked about his passion, his intensity, and his desire to potentially curtail it at certain moments; controlling his emotion in a way that would help his game. He considers himself a maturing leader who should lead by example via his work ethic and performance. Ultimately he’s happy playing in whatever role helps the team win, whether it’s head coach Bruce Boudreau’s first-line centre or not.

“It’s whatever role the coach puts me in, I try to worry about myself and wherever I’m slotted in the line-up it doesn’t matter,” Miller pointed out. “With (former head coach) Travis (Green) I played second and third line and I don’t think it really matters, I think I can find a way to chip in on any line … I think Bruce and I have a good relationship so far, he’s definitely challenged me on a nightly basis and I want, embrace that, and whether it’s first line centre or third line wing, it doesn’t matter, I just want our team to be good. I want a big opportunity like everybody else. If I play well, I think those opportunities will come.”

Humble rationalization aside, Miller is the Canucks top-llne centre, so much so that GM Patrik Allvin intimated Tuesday morning that he’d like to see his workhorse trim his ice time a little bit this season to make his game even more effective.

“In terms of J.T., I think over a period of time here I think he’s matured, he has found his game, he’s super competitive, I think he could dictate an outcome of every single game he played last year based on his performance,” Allvin stated. “I still think we could, or we need to manage his ice time better, I think the second half there, I think his minutes were a little bit too high. I think he has the potential to be even better here coming down a little bit. I think he played about 24-minutes and that’s really hard when you’re a centre. If we can help him and spread out his ice time a little bit better I think it would help him even more.”

Part of that was the Canucks desperate push for the playoffs in the second half of the season, part of it was Miller’s manic competitiveness.

The latter part of that is a good problem to have. For Miller, happy equals wins, and he would prefer that not a whole lot else gets in the way.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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