Taking Liberties With… Kevan Miller
Defenseman, Boston Bruins
Hometown: Canyon Country
Last Amateur Team: University of Vermont (Hockey East)
Local Youth Programs: West Valley Wolves, Ventura Mariners, Los Angeles Jr. Kings
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder is a study in hard work and perseverance. A 1987 birth year, Kevan Miller made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins after his 26th birthday despite playing only one season of AAA hockey growing up.
He’s also a bit of an ironman; he didn’t miss a game in college until a broken finger sidelined him near the end of his senior season. Same thing in the pros; pencil him in for just about a full season – until last when he sustained two shoulder injuries, which cost him the second half of the season.
The second required surgery, but he’s healed and working towards being ready for his third campaign in Boston.
California Rubber: What was your favorite hockey memory growing up?
Kevan Miller: The one that sticks out the most was playing in San Jose – I think my Mite or Squirt years when I played for the West Valley Wolves and we had a rivalry going on with the California Wave. A friend of mine I ended up playing with in Providence (with the Bruins of the American Hockey League) and playing against at Providence College was Kyle MacKinnon, who played for the Wave for years. We ended up playing for the (California Amateur Hockey Association) state championship. We won one year, and I think they won the next. It’s crazy how things work out; I played against him my whole life growing up, and then we play together our first year of pro.
CR: Who were your biggest influences when it came to hockey?
KM: Obviously coaches have a big influence on you, but growing up the biggest was my dad (Kirk); he’s someone I look up to, and he instilled a certain character to be the type of person I wanted to be. As you get older, you have coaches who have a certain influence, and I’d say one of those was my prep school coach, Dan Driscoll (at Berkshire School), and another was my college coach, Kevin Sneddon. I was fortunate to have good coaches as well as good people I could look up to and who’d lead me in the right direction.
CR: What the best piece of advice you have for young hockey players?
KM: The biggest thing is there’s ups and downs throughout everyone’s career or while they’re pursuing their goals. Sometimes you learn more from your failures than your successes; when you get knocked down, you learn more from that.
CR: What’s your favorite sport other than hockey?
KM: I grew up playing soccer as well as hockey. I played both all the way into high school. I tried to do it in college, but that didn’t pan out; my heart was into hockey even though I was playing soccer. So much translates to hockey – positioning, quick feet, body awareness.
CR: What’s your game-day routine look like?
KM: I’m pretty OCD to the point where I write everything down. I like to get a pregame meal in around noon, and get at least an hour nap in. At the rink, I’ll play a little soccer with the guys and have a little bit of a stretch. When I get to my locker, the music turns off and it’s time to get ready for the game.
CR: Are you particular about any of your gear?
KM: I’m pretty low maintenance, but the one thing I am picky about is the knob on my stick; I like to make them exactly the same. Any little thing can throw the feel off at the top of the stick.
CR: What would we be surprised to find in your hockey bag?
KM: If you found the smaller bag you keep all your knick-knacks in – like your tape – I keep a massage ball for the bottom of my feet; it’s spikey, you roll your feet over it, and it makes them feel so much better before you put your skates on.
CR: When you’re back in California, do you have a favorite restaurant you visit?
KM: I’m a huge fan of sushi, and there’s a place down the street from where I live in Valencia called Kyoto Sushi. It’s an all-you-can-eat spot.
CR: If you weren’t playing pro hockey, what would you be doing for a living?
KM: I have a few friends who are close to me in the military, and I grew up respecting that the most. I’d love to join the military. The Navy Seals would be something I’d like to do, but those guys are a different breed.
CR: What’s the most challenging aspect of playing in the NHL?
KM: The biggest thing is managing your emotions over the course of a season. There are ups and downs; everyone has high points and low points. Finding that even keel is the hardest thing because things can change really quickly.
CR: What is the funniest prank you’ve ever witnessed or been a part of?
KM: A teammate of mine parked his car and a buddy had somebody come and take all the tires off and put it up on blocks. He came out of practice and his car is just sitting there up on the blocks. We got a good kick out of that.
– Compiled by Chris Bayee