Monday, November 15, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Joe Miller

It's time to go into the way back machine for this AGM entry, who has quite the tale to tell. This goalie was a top amateur goalie, who plotted his way through the ranks, ended up with a sub-par team, but still managed to earn a Stanley Cup championship in probably the most unlikely way and I don't mean because of the team he was on. This week, we profile the career of Joe Miller.

Miller started out his career back in an exhibition based league, playing for the Pittsburgh AA's, where he would dominate, winning 37 out of the 40 games he played in at only 16 years old. Miller would stay in the exhibition league, playing the 1917-18 season with the Renfrew Creamery Kings-- but he would only play in seven games with a 4-3-0 record.

With the 1918-19 season, Miller would move to the Ottawa City Hockey League to play for the Ottawa New Edinburghs. Miller would play only four games in the first season, going 3-1-0 with two coming by way of shutout. The 1919-20 season would give Miller more time, with seven games played and a 4-2-0 record. In both the 1920-21 and 1921-22 season, Miller would see a downturn in his stats, even though he got more time in the net. The '20-21 season had Miller in the net for 11 games with a 4-6-1 record, while an 13 game season in '21-22 would yield a 4-7-2 record. The New Edinburghs would improved for the 1922-23 season, with a 10-6-2 record for Miller at the end of the season and a playoff appearance, which would end badly with a 1-3-1 record, where apparently ties were possible. Miller's last season with the New Edinburghs would be the 1923-24 season, where he would go 9-3-0 in his 12 games, but go 0-2 in the playoffs.

With the 1924-25 season, Miller would go back to Pittsburgh to play with the Fort Pitt Panthers of the USAHA. Miller would play 22 games, going 17-5-0; but the playoffs seemed to be a hinderance to him, going 1-3 in his four appearances. Miller would move to the Central Hockey League (the first incarnation) and play with the St. Paul Saints in the 1925-26 season. Miller would post six shutouts in his 38 games during the '25-26 campaign. The Saints moved to the AHA in the 1926-27 season, which had Miller play 30 games with a 13-12-5 record.

NHL teams were lined-up to get Miller, and he would finally sign. Miller would play with the New York Americans in the 1927-28 season for half of the season, going 8-16-4 in 28 games. The second half of the season, Miller went to the CPHL to play for the Niagara Falls Cataracts, where he would put up two shutouts in the 13 games he played there.

Yet, the 1928 playoffs were something that Miller never would have gotten to if it wasn't for a little luck. In the Stanley Cup finals, New York Rangers goalie Lorne Chabot got injured during Game Two. Rangers' GM Lester Patrick had a deal in place with the Americans to take Miller out on a loan, but the Montreal Maroons wouldn't allow Miller to play in Game Two, forcing Patrick to take the reigns, and win. Miller would take over in Game Three of the Finals, which would be the only game he lost. Miller only let in three goals in the last three games of the Finals, carrying the Rangers to winning the Stanley Cup.

After the Cup Finals, the Americans got Miller back, but would trade him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Roy Worters. The 1928-29 season was rough for Miller, as he played a league high 44 games, but had one of the worst records with a 9-27-8 record with an astonishing 11 shutouts. It wouldn't get much better for the 1929-30 season for Miller or the Pirates, as he would go 5-30-3 in his 43 games. The Pirates moved from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to become the Quakers, but the change of scenery didn't help Miller, as he would go 2-9-1 in 12 games for the Quakers.

Miller would play one more season in the IHL with the Syracuse Stars in the 1931-32 season, but would go a subpar 5-12-3 in 20 games. After that, he would hang up the pads for good.

Miller passed away at the age of 62 in 1963.

Though he didn't have the most orthodox career, he was able to get the job done when called upon and was able to deal with being thrown into the Finals with no prep at all. Of course, the teams he did play on seemed to let him down a bit once he got to the NHL, but he was the king of the amateurs and had enough buzz about him to get a deal in the NHL and get his chance, albeit in the most unorthodox way possible.

1 comment:

"Dave Schultz" said...

I want one of those old Americans sweaters