Tag: 2010 Stanley Cup puck

Steve Miller, David Koci

Accused puck-thieving linesman Steve Miller set to return to duty

Until recently, most hockey fans had never heard of linesman Steve Miller. Miller came to prominence recently after it had come out that he may be the man responsible for the missing Stanley Cup-winning puck from last season’s final.

With stories and evidence piling up that shows that Miller very well might be the guy responsible for the missing vulcanized rubber that the Hockey Hall of Fame would like to have, the NHL moved to take Miller off duty for the first round of the playoffs.

Now with the second round under way and games going on and the NHL in need of their best guys, Miller’s detention is apparently over with and he’s set to return to duty on Tuesday in Tampa Bay.

Wayne Drehs of ESPN.com reports that Miller’s return brings a bit of a soap opera to this year’s playoffs. NHL senior vice president of public relations Gary Meagher says that whatever investigation the NHL did into the matter is now “closed.”

Meagher said Friday that the decision was made to temporarily remove Miller from the playoffs to avoid any potential distractions. Meagher said Miller ws not suspended, and that the league stands behind him.

“There are lots of questions out there and to have any potential distraction while our playoffs are going on is not fair,” Meagher said Friday.

It’s not fair to the playoffs for sure, but it sure sounds like the NHL isn’t done snooping around into this case. At the very least, it seems like Miller is clear of any wrongdoing for the moment. It’s either that or the NHL is letting him go back about his job so the bubbling media circus around this story doesn’t have any fodder to run with if he’s not working.

It bears keeping an eye on and surely more cameras will be trained on him so if he’s got any inclinations to take pucks again, he should consider that Big Brother is watching.

NHL pulls linesman out of playoff rotation as rumors swirl about missing Cup-winning puck

Michael Leighton, Steve Miller

While eight teams fight to see who will collect the 2011 Stanley Cup winning goal, the intrigue regarding the whereabouts of last year’s winning puck is heating up.

In case you need a refresher, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane sent an odd-angle shot through Philadelphia Flyers Michael Leighton. The seemingly uncertain nature of the goal meant little to Kane, who was one of the few who realized he just won the Cup. Amid the chaos of that celebration, the championship-winning puck was lost in the shuffle.

The search for a guilty party (and the puck) heats up

Chris Pronger was the first suspect in The Case of the Missing Puck due to past offenses, but it eventually became clear that “The Puck Burglar” was innocent for once. Chicago-based restaurant Harry Caray’s offered a $50,000 reward for the absent piece of rubber. The search reached its most absurd level when Chicago-area FBI agents volunteered their services (off the clock, naturally) to solve this riddle.

Now it seems like one major culprit has emerged: 11-year NHL linesman Steve Miller. As Wayne Drehs of ESPN points out, Philadelphia sports blogger Kyle Scott pieced together a case against Miller for his site Crossing Broad. While Drehs’ Outside the Lines report surfaced on April 20, Miller hasn’t officiated a game since April 17, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Various sources indicate that Miller wasn’t listed among the linesmen who will appear in the league’s second round of games, a strong sign that he’ll be a “healthy scratch” on at least a temporary basis.

The NHL responds

It’s tough to contend with the notion that such a move emboldens the rumor mill, but Drehs shares this quote from the NHL’s senior VP of public relations, Gary Meagher.

“There are lots of questions out there and to have any potential distraction while our playoffs are going on is not fair,” Meagher said.


“We’d love to find the answers but I don’t know if we’ll ever get the answers,” he said. “We’re asking the questions. We want to find out. But the bottom line is we just don’t know. And Steve doesn’t know.

“At the end of the day you either believe someone or you don’t believe them. We’ve talked to [Steve] as a league and talked to various people and we stand behind him. He absolutely doesn’t recall getting the puck or doing anything with the puck.”

Drehs also reports that the aforementioned FBI volunteers deemed it a “100 percent certainty” that Miller picked up that puck after watching the video. To be fair to Miller, that doesn’t guarantee that he still possesses the puck or knows where it ended up, even if he did actually snatch it.

Obviously, it’s pretty tough to avoid the suspicion that Miller knows a bit more than he leads on, especially since there’s some evidence that he came into contact with that historic puck. (This post’s main image features Miller, Leighton, that net and that puck, after all.)

Logic behind the oddness

At this point, you might be wondering: is one piece of vulcanized rubber really worth all of this controversy? After all, it became important by means of coincidence more than anything else.

Yet if you have even a vague understanding of the money generated by sports memorabilia – not to mention how much the Hockey Hall of Fame would love to display that puck – the puck’s ceremonial value comes into focus.

This story has been entertaining for most of us, but remains potentially damaging for Miller’s career as an NHL linesman. It’ll be interesting to see if the league reinstates him once the headlines simmer down. After all, if you’re an official during the Stanley Cup finals, chances are high that you’re considered one of the top guys at the job.

We’ll let you know when this wacky little saga twists and turns once again.