Monarch alumnus Ryan Miller didn’t always see himself as destined for a professional career in hockey, whether that be as a player or otherwise.
When the class of 2002 graduate played at Monarch, hockey wasn’t even a sanctioned high school sport in Colorado. Miller never went pro as a player and didn’t leave Monarch with the intention of carving out any sort of career in the challenging world that is professional hockey.
But life’s twists and turns led to Miller landing a job as director of hockey operations for the St. Louis Blues. On June 12, the Blues he helped construct won their first-ever championship and Miller found himself on the ice amidst the celebration, hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Whether or not he sought to embark on a career in professional hockey when he left Monarch all those years ago, Miller is now in his ninth season with the Blues and has already reached a pinnacle of professional sports few ever achieve.
“It was kind of a crazy year for us because we had so many ups and downs,” Miller said. “To have it finish the way that it did and to have that group come together that way was great. And to win one for the city of St. Louis, a city that has waited for so long and has invested so much in us, was incredible.”
After high school, Miller earned a B.A. in criminal justice from the University of Dayton and then a graduate degree from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. During his time at DU, he interned at KO Sports, Inc., an agency in Denver that represents professional hockey players. That internship turned into a full-time job as the agency’s director of hockey operations and licensing and he joined the St. Louis Blues in 2010.
“It turned out to be a dream for someone who played and grew up as a big fan as a kid,” said Miller, who added that he likes to think that capitalizing on unexpected opportunities is what has helped him reach this point in his career.
Miller’s responsibilities as the Blues’ director of hockey operations include contract negotiation, arbitration research, analytical data collection, salary cap tracking, compliance, draft preparation, player market research and plenty of other various tasks involved in day-to-day operations of an NHL club.
Though he is quite busy, Miller still makes time to check in on how Monarch hockey is doing. He was thrilled when the Coyotes finally won the 2017 state title after losing in the previous four championship games. When he grew up playing in the 90s, there was hardly enough ice time to support high school hockey programs in the Louisville area and Miller said he is amazed by how far the sport of hockey has come in his home state of Colorado.
“My folks still live in Louisville and they’re a five-minute walk from Monarch,” Miller said. “It’s always fun to keep up with it because I played before it was sanctioned and I like to think in sort of a cheeky way that I helped to get things going at Monarch. To see what high school hockey in Colorado has become is really incredible. They’ve done some great things out that way and I’m proud to say that I played some small part in it.”