What is a Red Wing fan supposed to do with an NHL Lockout in effect? Travel to Glasgow, Scotland of course; where Drew Miller is playing for The Braehead Clan. Drew Miller has tallied 13 points in 9 games for the Clan. His move from Michigan to Scotland was quick. He signed on October 8th, joined the team on the 10th, and played his first game on the 12th.
How has the move from Michigan to Scotland been?
Drew Miller – The biggest plus was they do speak English here, but you have to really listen because their accent is a little tough to understand. My wife and I are getting the hang of it now though. After being here for 5 weeks you start to understand things and pick out words to know what they are saying. It has been a great experience so far. The toughest thing is staying in a hotel. We are used to that though and we have done it in Anaheim and Detroit.
How has the transition been from the NHL to the EIHL for you?
DM – The rink is bigger so I am adjusting to having more time and space. I am so used to playing in Detroit’s systems, so you have to adjust to a new system with the Clan and it took me a few games to get the hang of it. The other big thing would be the time difference. You jump 5 hours ahead and you haven’t played a game in 5 months and you are right into the game.
Even with the transition, you started producing right away. How did you manage that?
DM – It’s hockey, you want to get out there and play well for the team. It’s different for me the last few years I have been such a defensive player for Detroit. They count on me to do the little things and play on the penalty kill. Here I get a chance to get my offensive game back and be more offensive than defensive.
What is it like to be able to play an offensive game again?
DM – It is nice to play the offensive side of the game again. When I played in the minors back home I had more of an offensive role as well. Being an offensive player, I was counted on to play the power play. It is different trying to transition back to that when I am so mentally used to playing a defensive game. But in the end I think it will help my game back home. It is nice to get that offensive confidence back and here I am playing a lot of the minutes. My conditioning on the big rink should be a lot better when I go back, hopefully soon, after the lockout ends.
With all the CBA talk this past week. Do you even pay attention to it or are you more focused on the game here?
DM – For sure, we get our updates from the NHLPA. You always want to know what is going on and be informed which we are, very well by the PA. But it is nice to get away. If I was in Detroit I would be sitting there and going to skate 3 days a week and hoping the lockout would end soon. Over here I can kind of put that aside and play some hockey, get games in, and have some fun with the guys over here. There is nothing like playing games and you can’t simulate that right now back home.
Most of your games are on the weekend here. Do you practice more or do you receive more time off?
DM – We have more time off here. Actually a lot more than I anticipated, so my wife is here with me and we have been able to travel around. We travelled to Dublin for a couple days, have seen a bunch of castles around Scotland, and The William Wallace Monument. It gives us a chance to travel around and see some things we otherwise would not have seen without this opportunity.
Scotland seems like an interesting choice. How were you able to get this opportunity?
DM – When you look at most other leagues like the Swiss league they were looking for big name players like Nash, Thornton, and Pacioretty. I have a European agent that I know pretty well from Michigan State and he looked around for me. He played in Europe for most of his career so he knew a lot of people and he knew, Jordan Krestanovich, the player/coach for Braehead, so it just kind of fell into place that way. And people say this is more of a NA league. There is a lot of hitting and the play is more like it is back home. So for me it is working out great. I get to play some games and travel around, so better than sitting at home doing nothing.
There are some good hits out there. How has the physicality in this league been?
DM – Yeah there were some good hits. Tonight was a little different because of the score, but there’s games where we play Nottingham last week where there are a lot more hits and it is a much tighter game. It is pretty physical which is good for the transition back home. It is not just skating around and making plays, it is feeling the hits and making the hits, like playing back home.
Did you know anyone who plays on The Clan or in the EIHL before the move over?
DM – When I looked at the team though I saw Ash Goldie and I played with him on Michigan State for 2 years. It is always nice knowing someone, coming over here and that helped out a lot. The guys have been great here and they have a lot of questions about the NHL and this player or that player and about hockey systems and stuff like that. They ask questions and I try to help out as much as I can. Team is doing well. We had a tough stretch there for a little bit, but we were right there in a lot of those games and hopefully tonight we turn things around. I definitely hope the lockout ends, but this is a great alternative.
What do you miss most about Detroit?
DM – I have to say my dogs. My dogs are back there and both my wife and I both them. They are with my parents right now, but it is tough not having them around. We miss being in a house, having a car, being in a normal routine, and having family and friends around.
Once the interview was over Drew stayed around and we chatted for another couple minutes about the fans and how even though there is a much smaller number here, that they are very loud and keep the team energized. Drew has become a fan favourite in Glasgow and when he scores you can hear a Miller Time chant making its way around the arena.
Here are a few things some of those fans had to say about Drew:
“He brings a physical element to the Clan. He holds his own in the corners against anyone and wins battles. He scores clutch goals and has a large impact on the team.”
“He is an experienced player, having played in the NHL and that experience is helping the team develop. He is a brilliant hockey player.”
“He’s a bully!”
The Braehead Clan fans are very passionate about the team and they are extremely happy to have a guy like Drew Miller on the team. He will be sorely missed once the lockout it over.