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Spartan Hockey All-American and 15-year NHL professional Kelly Miller is in his fourth season on the coaching staff. Miller, who is part of a family which has been synonymous with Spartan Hockey for decades, brings a background that helps Spartan players not only prepare to succeed in college hockey, but also in the classroom. His extensive experience in hockey at all levels and in the business world enables him to effectively develop student athletes for the professional hockey ranks and for life after hockey.
Miller was a classmate of Head Coach Tom Anastos all four seasons at Michigan State, earning four varsity letters (1981-85). The Lansing, Mich., native became the fourth member of his family (out of an eventual 10) to play hockey at Michigan State when he enrolled in the fall of 1981, and he made an immediate impact for the Spartans. During his four-year Spartan career, MSU compiled a 121-43-3 mark and advanced to the NCAA tournament each season, including a fourth-place finish in 1984. The Spartans also captured four straight Great Lakes Invitational titles and four straight CCHA Playoff championships. He closed his career playing in 165 games, posting 82 goals and 82 assists for 164 points. He still ranks tied for 25th on MSU's all-time scoring list and tied for seventh with nine career short-handed tallies.
As a senior captain in 1984-85, he tallied 27 goals and 50 points in 43 games, as the Spartans rolled to 38-6 overall mark and a 27-5 first-place CCHA slate. He was a Hobey Baker Award finalist and earned All-America First-Team honors, in addition to being selected as the team MVP.
A champion in the classroom, Miller was a three-time CCHA All-Academic Team honoree, earning first-team honors in 1984 and 1985. In addition, he earned First-Team Academic All-America distinction in 1985. He was honored as the MSU hockey program's Distinguished Spartan in 2003.
A ninth-round draft choice of the New York Rangers in 1982, his National Hockey League career spanned more than 1,000 games over 15 seasons, including three years with the New York Rangers and 12 with the Washington Capitals. He developed into one of the top defensive players in the league, registering 181 goals and 463 points. A Selke Trophy finalist (best defensive forward) in 1989, he helped the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, and served as an assistant captain for the franchise for more than a decade. He was also the vice president of the NHL Players Association from 1990-95.
Miller started his coaching career in 1999-2000 when he served as an assistant coach for the Grand Rapids Griffins, leading the squad to the Turner Cup Finals. He then was named head coach and general manager of the Capital Centre Pride in the North American Hockey League before moving on to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks as an Assistant Coach in 2000-01. He went on to work on the New York Islanders staff as an assistant coach under current Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette from 2001-2003.
Miller has extensive international hockey experience with USA Hockey. As a player, he skated for Team USA at the World Junior Championships in 1981, 1982 and 1983. He was captain and team MVP of the 1983 USA squad. He represented the USA in three World Championships (1986, 1989, 1999), and played in the 1987 Canada Cup. As an Assistant Coach, he helped the USA to a gold medal at the Four Nations Cup in 2000. He also served as an Athlete Director and Junior Council Member for USA Hockey from 1995-2001.
Miller holds a B.A. in Business Administration and his M.B.A. in Finance from Michigan State University. In addition to a life in hockey, he has spent two years in commercial real estate and several years in the banking industry. He and his wife Shelby have three daughters: Taylor and Chelsey are both graduates of Michigan State, and their youngest, Ashton, is a freshman on the women's soccer team at Duke.