C hris Mueller still believes it was a forward pass.
Perhaps it is fitting, then, that the Buffalo Bills fan arrived in Nashville for Predators training camp on the same day that Alan Lowry, architect of the “Music City Miracle”, was dismissed from his job as special teams coach of the Tennessee Titans.
“I’m excited,” Mueller said. “As a fan of the game, I’m glad the NHL is back and I’m just happy to be up here in Nashville.”
With his nemesis out of the way, nothing appears to be standing in Chris Mueller’s way this time.
Is it finally Mueller Time?
Mueller got called into Milwaukee coach Dean Evason’s office on Thursday, January 10th. He knew why, but he was still pumped.
“It’s definitely exciting. When Dean told us down there in Milwaukee that we were coming up, we were excited.”
Last season, Mueller had a successful training camp by most measures, registering 3 goals and an assist during the exhibition portion. However, he was sent back to Milwaukee as the odd-man-out at center.
In Milwaukee, Mueller made the most of his opportunity, finishing 5th in the AHL in goal-scoring with 32 and making the AHL’s Western Conference All Star Roster in January.
Several believed that training camp this season would be Mueller’s time to shine. He plays the typical style and possesses the typical work ethic than Barry Trotz and David Poile like to describe as “Predator hockey”.
Unfortunately, instead of an entire preseason, Mueller has a four day crunch to crack his first ever opening day roster.
“I’ve got four days to play my game. The good thing is that I’ve been playing down in Milwaukee for 33 or 34 games. Obviously they watch every game and keep tabs on the guys down there, so they know how I can play and how I’ve been playing this year.”
In what he described as a “blessing” late last year, Mueller was able to play hockey in Milwaukee during the NHL’s lockout due to his two-way contract with the Predators. In his opinion, it gives him an advantage over his “ready-level” from previous training camps since he has half a season of game experience under his belt.
“You can work as hard as you want, but it doesn’t relate to on-ice, game shape. Being able to play in Milwaukee keeps you game ready. You get the timing down on the faceoffs and stick handling. It’s all timing things that you have to get used to. Being down there for three months should help with the transition. We play the same systems down there. We three (Mueller, Blum and Ellis) are acquainted with that, it’s fresh in our minds, so hopefully it’s just a smooth transition and we have success.”
Before being called up, Mueller had 12 goals and 8 assists in 34 games in Milwaukee. At the time of his call-up, the 12 goals were tied for the team lead.
On February 15th, the Milwaukee Admirals are hosting “Chris Mueller Bobblehead Night” to celebrate his 2011-12 season.
If he made the Predators roster, he would have to miss the ceremonies.
“I wouldn’t be upset. Let’s put it that way.”
- “PuckCast Episode 13: Chris Mueller“
- “Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City: Mueller Takes His All Star Turn“