NEWARK, N.J. -- Ryan Miller's dedication to hockey extended from coast to coast when he achieved Olympic stardom. The Buffalo Sabres' goaltender was everywhere. He chatted nationally with "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest while in Vancouver. After the Sabres played in New York, Miller stayed behind for a daylong media tour that included appearances on "The Today Show" and VH1, and interviews with the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among others.
"It's important for hockey," Miller said when the media attention was at its highest. "People are interested. We have a great sport. That's what gets them excited and gets them involved, and they want to watch and pay attention and play hockey. I think I have to do what I can."
His willingness to alter his lifestyle and open his private life to benefit his sport has been recognized. The Buffalo chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association has named Miller as the Sabres' nominee for the 2010 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The Masterton is awarded each year to the NHL player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." Each chapter of the writers' association nominates a player, then the members vote for one winner from the 30 candidates. Voting will close on April 21.
Two Sabres have won the award. Don Luce was the recipient in 1975, and Pat LaFontaine won in 1995. The activities that earned Miller this year's nomination were worth the effort, he said.
"It's more about capitalizing on an opportunity where people were paying attention to me on different levels," Miller said this weekend. "It's a chance to help hockey, and definitely the league, transfer from Olympics to the NHL level.
"Hopefully, it sparks some interest. That's kind of my thinking behind it because if you grow the fan base, it's only going to help us as a sport and a culture. We want little kids playing the game."
Miller's off-ice contributions also include the Steadfast Foundation, which he founded in 2006 and is dedicated to assisting people afflicted and affected by cancer, especially childhood forms of the disease.