After his freakout, J.T. Miller owes Vancouver Canucks teammate Collin Delia an apology

      Not only did Miller treat a third-string goalie as 'lesser than,' but Delia wasn't even doing anything wrong.

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      J.T. Miller owes his Vancouver Canucks teammate Collin Delia an apology.

      In the closing minutes of Thursday’s matchup with the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver was trailing 3-2. And Delia – playing his third game in goal for the Canucks – got stuck in the Vancouver crease, waiting for any sign from the coaching staff to skate off for the extra attacker.

      The signal never came. And when Miller gained possession of the puck and circled back into the Canucks defensive zone, he tore into his teammate.

      Miller can be seen screaming at Delia to get off the ice – in not so nice words. Then the Canucks assistant captain smashes his stick off the crossbar directly behind Delia while continuing to yell at him.

      It’s one of the most disrespectful things I’ve seen a player do to a teammate in quite some time. And Miller is completely in the wrong.

      Let me explain.

      Every goaltender knows that when their team is trailing, and there’s less than three minutes left in the game, it’s time to start looking toward the bench. But goaltenders are taught to stay put until the coach calls for them to get off the ice.

      No coach wants to be surprised by a goaltender making a beeline for the bench. Adding the extra attacker isn’t a spur of the moment decision. Coaches are constantly juggling which skaters are available to replace the goaltender.

      But there’s another layer. Over time, many coaches have realized there isn’t much to gain by yanking the goalie when the puck is still in the defensive zone. Consequently, many goaltenders have been coached to stay put in such a situation.

      Turnovers happen. Players have scored on their own net accidentally. There really isn’t a big advantage having a sixth skater on the ice when trying to break the puck out with possession.

      You know when Delia is supposed to get off the ice? When Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau says so. And if you go back and watch the video again, Boudreau isn’t waving Delia to the bench. In fact, not one member of his staff is even looking at the Vancouver goaltender.

      So for Miller to throw a tantrum towards Delia is completely ridiculous. Miller has no clue what the coaching staff is calling for. He just sees a situation where – in his mind – the goalie needs to get off. And he goes way overboard. Take a look again.

      As players, we’re passionate. We want to win. And things happen fast. But whacking the crossbar behind Delia? Miller might as well have slashed the netminder in the back of the head. The optics are atrocious.

      Do you think Miller would have yelled at Canucks No.1 netminder Thatcher Demko the same way? How about Henrik Lundqvist or Andrei Vasilevskiy, both former teammates of Miller?

      No. Freaking. Chance.

      I’ve been there before as a No. 3 goaltender. I’ve felt the uneasiness of coming into a new locker room and trying to do everything I can to help the team win. I know what it’s like to feel like an outsider despite wearing the same jersey as my teammates.

      The 2022-23 NHL season is the first for Delia outside the Chicago Blackhawks organization. 

      Miller is asserting dominance over a teammate that hasn’t been a member of the Canucks for very long. Someone who – in that moment – Miller viewed as lesser than him. An AHL goalie in the NHL. 

      That’s pretty rich considering Delia stopped 35 of 38 shots and faced – according to – an astounding 25 high danger chances.

      But here’s the thing. Delia went undrafted. He’s 28 years old and in his sixth year of professional hockey. The Canucks backstop has appeared in 35 NHL games thanks to determination and hard work.

      Delia wasn’t standing in the crease staring off into the space. He was paying attention. Watch the last two minutes of the game and it’s clear as day that Delia was looking toward the bench waiting for a signal that never came.

      And that’s the biggest reason I was disgusted by Miller’s actions. He made Delia look like an idiot, when Delia didn’t do anything wrong.

      If Miller didn’t immediately realize how poor his actions were, I hope someone did and pulled him aside. Because it’s not just Miller that looks bad. It’s the entire Canucks team.

      I say all this with the knowledge that I screwed up on multiple occasions during my own career. None of us are perfect. I had to own up to my mistakes and apologize to teammates after games more than I’d like to admit. But those conversations were important.

      The problem for Miller is that his outburst was so public. He can’t hide from it. And Miller is fresh off signing a seven-year extension worth $56 million dollars that keeps him in Vancouver through 2030.

      He’s supposed to be a leader for the Canucks. But last night, Miller didn’t live up to the ‘A’ on his jersey.


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