J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson have had their differences this season.
That’s not speculation — that’s essentially a direct quote.
“We’ve had our differences,” said Pettersson earlier in the season. “But he’s a teammate that I respect.”
The relationship between Miller and Pettersson became a talking point this season for various reasons, but primarily because the two of them talked about it.
“Petey and my relationship has come a long way,” said Miller in February. “We're still working at it. We're completely different people, you know what I mean? You're not going to be BFFs with everybody, but at the same time, you come to work together. We are polar opposite in a lot of ways, but we're working at it. We've come a long way.”
When asked about their relationship on Saturday morning at the Vancouver Canucks’ final media availability of the season, Miller gave Pettersson a look with a wry smile on his face and Pettersson dryly said, “It’s great,” to appreciative laughter.
“We’re not very alike in the sense of personality and hobbies, so we’re not naturally going to gravitate towards each other,” said Miller. “But I think over time, we have become friends. Our relationship’s getting better.”
There’s sometimes a sense in hockey that players have to have chemistry off the ice in order to work well together on the ice but it’s a misconception. Ryan Kesler and the Sedins had very little in common personality-wise and spent their time away from the rink very differently but that didn’t mean they couldn’t pull in the same direction.
Miller and Pettersson don’t have much in common, but what they do have in common is the most important thing.
“It’s also a challenge for us because it’s like meeting somebody random on the street and just saying, ‘Hey, be friends with that guy that’s nothing like you,’” said Miller. “We’re not a lot alike but we’re both very competitive with our job and motivated to win, so there are still things to bring us together too.”
Both Miller and Pettersson are intensely competitive but that competitive nature comes out in different ways. Miller is fiery and emotional, while Pettersson is more cool and calculated, but they both care a lot about winning and want to get the Canucks back to the playoffs and to a spot where they can challenge for the Stanley Cup.
“All I care about is I want to win,” said Pettersson. “These guys just want to win. To get there, it’s not going to be an easy process but I think we’re all up for the challenge and are ready to do the hard work to get there because winning is fun.”