Training camp has begun for the Chilliwack Chiefs, with a whole new group of players ready to represent this city in its return to the BCHL.
To help you get to know your new team, the Progress sports section will be running several player features from now until the start of the regular season.
The crash course continues today with a veteran defender ready to stick up for his young teammates.
If you haven’t met Ty Miller yet, chances are you will soon.
And chances are equally good that he will be the one introducing himself to you, because that’s the type of guy he is.
Friendly, outgoing and very likely the first captain of the Chilliwack Chiefs V2.
The 20-year-old Prince George native was picked up from the Langley Rivermen in an offseason deal, reuniting him with former coach Harvey Smyl.
In 60 games with Langley last season, Miller had four goals, 19 points and 111 penalty minutes, which gives you a pretty good idea about what he can do.
He’s never going to put up glitzy offensive numbers.
What he will give you is steady defence, physical play and toughness. As nice as Miller may be off the ice, he can be a nasty piece of business on it, as opponents have discovered over four BCHL seasons split between Quesnel (2007-08), Westside (2008-09), Prince George (2009-10) and Langley (2009-11).
“Off the ice I’ve never been in a fight, but I basically fought my way into this league,” Miller said. “Over time I’ve gotten used to the league and I’ve been able to do more, but the fighting has given me more respect from my opponents and more time to do things on the ice.”
It’s a nearly universal truth that the so-called ‘enforcers’ are the best guys in hockey.
Former NHL tough guy Todd Ewen racked up almost 2000 penalty minutes in the bigs, but dreamed of writing and illustrating children’s books.
Dave Schultz, arguably the most menacing enforcer ever, was a victim of bullying in his youth and recently launched a national anti-bullying program.
“There are some guys who are absolutely crazy on and off the ice, and those are the guys you’re scared of,” Miller said. “But it’s possible to be a nice people-person off the ice and still have that edge on the ice. You’ve just got to find the right medium and stick to it.”
Opponents should take heed now of what pushes Miller’s buttons.
Picking on smaller guys.
That’s a no-no.
Being lippy and talking back.
That’s a no-no.
Messing with the goaltender.
That’s a no-no.
“They get the glare first, and people tend to know when I’m mad,” the six-foot-three and 210 pound blueliner laughed. “My first fight in the league I got rag-dolled pretty good and ended up with a fractured orbital bone. But with time I’ve gotten a lot better at it, and there’s not too many guys in the league who are bigger than me anymore.”
Miller doesn’t want to be known strictly as a fighter, preferring the term, ‘aggressive player.’
“There are guys on teams whose sole purpose is fighting, where I’m more of a well-rounded player now,” he said.
Miller has a well-rounded set of interests off the ice, including a couple you wouldn’t expect from the hard-nosed veteran.
His PG roots mean he naturally gravitates to outdoors activities like fishing and hiking. But he’s also surprisingly happy hanging out in a mall.
“Just walking around, you know?” he laughed. “Grabbing a bite to eat.”
Miller spent his summer working on a particularly interesting project.
His long term goal is to be an architect, and he worked in construction on the newly renovated B.C. Place Stadium.
The newfangled roof brings a love-it-or-hate-it element to the Vancouver skyline, and Miller got plenty of insight on how it will look and work.
“They made the roof to go in and out depending on the weather, but they can’t do it on the fly,” he explained. “If it’s windy or raining, they can’t move the roof. They have to judge what the weather is going to be beforehand, which, to me, wasn’t the smartest design. I imagine people will like the stadium regardless, but they might get a bit upset when they’re getting rained on and the roof isn’t closing.”
Every architect has a dream project, and Miller already has his.
“The architecture in the Roman coliseums was amazing, and I’d like to re-enact those,” he said. “I designed a model of it when I was younger, and I’d build a modern one if I ever had the chance.”
First things first.
Miller’s immediate task at hand is to help lay the foundation for the new Chilliwack Chiefs and he appears to be the right man for the job.