Coyotes SPOTLIGHT series brought to you in collaboration from myself Troy Baker and Michał Kolasiński who inspired this piece.
He is yet to earn a consistent spot on the Coyote’s roster. For many players with two-way contracts it is an achievement to see any ice time with the big club. Andy Miele is a gritty American with a small body but a huge heart for the sport. He is still pursuing his dream to become a regular NHL center for the Coyotes unlike Gilbert Brule who decided the life of a vagabond is no longer for him. It can be tough living out of a suitcase. Then again professional sports have as many cruel tales as teenagers in Hollywood pursuing dreams of becoming famous. All we can say right now is that Miele has talent. He is fast and skilled on the ice. He is very fun to watch even if it hasn’t translated on the big stage. Sometimes it appears he finds it very hard to jump over the bench. You can’t change his size. Seeing Whitney and Sullivan and their contributions show you sometimes size doesn’t matter. That’s the one thing he will never be able to change. His size. But hey one of the biggest hearts on the bench, Coach Dave Tippett. He was a beast in the NHL. A wolverine on the ice and someone you wouldn’t fear off of it.
At 25 years old, time is certainly not Miele’s ally. In addition, guys like Connor Murphy and Micheal Stone needed a shorter period of time to achieve what Miele dreams of. Playing on a regular basis for the Phoenix Coyotes. He doesn’t complain, you don’t see him retiring, and he is happy to dominate in Portland until he gets another chance. Like baseball you never know when you will get called up and how you will perform. Some just get a cup of coffee.
During his time in Phoenix he struggled with playing along the boards, where the traffic built up, giants suffocated him. Obviously, Miele is absolutely no threat when it comes to checking, blocking or even more aggressive defensive play. Even the pros like Craig Janney and Nicklas Lidstrom had to do this stuff probably more often than they wanted to. It’s no secret that most guys his size aren’t even drafted. However, most of them do not have what Andy has – technique, speed and talent. Pure skill.
AHL is no mystery to Miele. He scores, he passes and his stats (53 points in 70 games with the Pirates last season) surely suggest that he is NHL material. He told the media that he prefers the style of play of the guys like Ray Whitney – a lot of passing, play making and looking for the opportunities for his mates to score big ones. He has all the skills needed to play that role. Miele is very good at checking, passing, and can read the game very well.
It is a well-known fact that the NHL is a sport with severe competition among the players and anyone who plans on staying there for a while needs to be mentally-prepared. When you think about diminutive players in the NHL, one of the first people that comes to mind is Theo Fleuery. People scoffed at his size but he was as competitive as anyone who took this ice with him. Unfortunately he was the only one who could stop him with a battle with addiction which destroyed his career.
For the first time, the 25-year-old center feels comfortable in the NHL. “I’ve been up and down for the last two years,” Miele said. “I know the guys a lot better and the system much better. I think I can keep on rolling here.” Miele has a good start and support to fight for what he wants.
Last but not least, Miele has to catch a bus called “luck”. A big game would give him a spark and for sure it would catch coach Tippet’s eye. Tippett said this of Miele: ” He’s come a long way in a couple years. You can tell in his confidence. He goes into the face-off circle and he wants to play, instead of going out and going oh I’m not sure I can play.”
Miele is in the very same situation as Boedker once was. Going back and forth, trying to earn a spot and prove everybody wrong. They both have great skills, they are both young and eager to play – Miele is just in the place where he is still yet to give us the evidence that NHL is where he belongs. If he does not give up and forgets about his 5’9’’, he will be just fine and we will celebrate NHL goals with him sooner than later.
In closing I want to add a final nugget to chew on. We all have had our eye on Miele. We heard rumblings of the next big thing! (no pun intended) Like the movie Rudy it feels the same to root for this kid. In a World where many get discounted or discarded. Where Drew Brees was told he was too small. Pretty sure he has a Super Bowl ring and Phillip Rivers still battles on average teams. We will cheer for Andy as if he were Rudy. When he takes the ice again….Join me in a chant:
ANDY ….. ANDY ….. ANDY! ANDY! ….. ANDY ANDY ANDY !!!!