Miller brings back to MSU not only NHL experience, but a great depth of character and integrity.


Kelly Miller hopes to use own experiences to teach his MSU players

After years of professional hockey, Kelly Miller is back where it all began: Michigan State.

Miller, who played his college hockey as a member of the Michigan State Spartans, was drafted by the NHL’s New York Rangers to play in the 1984-85 season. He was later traded to the Washington Capitals, enjoying a lengthy stint that lasted all the way into the 1998-98 season. He wasn’t half bad, either, as he ended his career with over 175 goals, over 450 points and over 500 penalty minutes.

And while Miller enjoyed success at different levels, the one thing that has lasted with him, his friends and his family is a connection to Michigan State University. Miller is one of 10 members of his family to have played hockey at MSU, and his cousins Drew and Ryan are both currently playing in the NHL.

Miller now gets to focus on coaching and fulfilling his passion and longtime dream.

“To be able to go back to my alma meter and to a job I’ve dreamed of for years since I actually left, I thought, ‘I always wanted to come back and coach here,’” Miller said. “It’s just a terrific opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to working with Tom Anastos and (assistant coach) Tom Newton and (goaltending coach) Mike Gilmore. They’re all character people and I just can’t wait to get started.”

And in terms of getting to know the players he will be coaching, he will draw on his own experiences – both in college and at the highest professional level in the world – to both teach these younger talents and make them aware of what it takes to be a great all-around hockey player.

Getting his job as assistant was step one, but now that he has it, he is very eager to share his knowledge to make players better.

“It’s important to be able to understand what it takes to get to the highest level, and not only get there but to stay there,” he said. “It’s very difficult to get there, but it’s even harder to stay at that level for a long period of time. I think the average career is anywhere between three to five years … the mental side of the game, the physical demands, and the ability to continue to improve and stay one step ahead of the next kid trying to take your job [is difficult].

“Those are some of the things I can bring to the table and in terms of helping kids understand what it takes, and how to succeed and stay there for a long time.”

The amount of experience on the Spartans’ coaching staff is abundant, but the knowledge of the men who will be heading the benches next winter will be even greater.