As a 30-year-old Sabres fan, I started really paying attention to the team and the sport of hockey in the early 2000s. It was the end of Dominik Hasek's career and then Ryan Miller came into the Buffalo Sabres' goaltender scene in 2002-2003, the season he played his first NHL game.

In case you didn't hear, former Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller announced his retirement from the NHL on Thursday, which will be official after the end of the 2020-2021 season.

Miller's currently with the Anaheim Ducks, but he spent the first 11 years of his professional hockey career in Buffalo. Miller earned the starting goaltender spot in 2005-2006 and held that distinction until he was traded in 2014 to the St. Louis Blues. He also played for the Vancouver Canucks and the aforementioned Ducks.

Miller is the winningest American-born goaltender in NHL history and is 14th all-time in wins of all goalies in NHL history. He also won the Vezina during the 2009-2010 season, which was also the season he nearly led Team USA to the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Miller had a press conference today in Anaheim, where he talked about his career and his decision to retire. The topic of Buffalo was brought up a lot and some of the quotes will for sure make Sabres fans teary-eyed.

Miller said Buffalo will always have a big part of his heart.

My favourite quote though was when he said that he felt he owed Buffalo something for what it had given him.

Miller also said he felt like he "grew up in Buffalo" and he felt like he should "make Buffalo a better place" in regards to his charity work.

Ryan didn't have to say all that and we know he's already given Buffalo everything he had. I know the end of those seasons out of the lockout didn't end the way we wanted, but I haven't met a Sabres fan alive who doesn't have fond memories of that time period and of Miller.

He's truly one of the most beloved Buffalo athletes of my lifetime. Kids decided to play goalie ice hockey and street hockey for that matter because of Miller. He made playing goalie fun and his professional attitude and accountability garnered respect from fans.

Buffalo will always love Ryan Miller.

Buffalo Sabres Goalie Masks

Buffalo Sabres Captains Since 2000