“… I don’t think you’ll find a teammate that didn’t appreciate Reggie as a person and a player.”
Millette’s presence has been winning over teammates, coaches, scouts and hockey leaders since his early days in the sport.
“As a coach, you love a player who plays with passion,” David said.
That passion for hockey was encouraged at an early age by anonymous supporters, who would make financial contributions to ensure Millette was able to continue playing youth hockey in Fort Wayne.
While not in a position to commit to such things yet, both David and AIC coach Eric Lang have speculated — in Lang’s case, in an interview with NHL.com’s Color of Hockey Blog — that Millette is the type of player likely to wear a letter as a team captain.
David sums up Millette’s approach in describing the shortest of his preseason player meetings, about a minute in length, in which he quickly knew his new player understood expectations.
“I’ve never had a one-minute meeting in my 12 years of coaching junior hockey and had a player of any age and any background who has walked out of that meeting and gone an entire season without needing to be talked to once, and not needing to be recalibrated at all,” David said.
NHL executive Dan MacKinnon had seen and recommended Millette to Rick Scero, who saw similar traits in a then-raw, 12-year-old player.
After Millette played for Scero’s spring league team, Scero and his wife, Chris, wound up taking Millette into their home so he could live in the Detroit area and play for Victory Honda.
“I have a lot of people who have helped me and they never went away when I went away,” Millette said. “Now, I’m just in a different state doing the same thing.
“It was hard for my grandmother at first and I remember seeing her crying when I left, but she also knew that it was the right decision. She was just happy that I got to play hockey.”
The support others have made to him is something Millette tries to remember while on the ice.
“I show my thanks through how I play,” he said.
While proud to be recognized for his hard work and teamwork, Millette also hopes to use the final year of junior hockey, before launching his college career, to add more of the finesse that may be demonstrated by more frequent appearances on scoresheets.
“For me, adding the finesse part to the grit is probably the piece everyone is looking for,” said Millette, who was part of championship teams in the High Performance Hockey League with Compuware three years ago and in the North American Hockey League with the Austin Bruins a year ago. “If I could add to that, I think I could be another step ahead.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Dan Hickling/Hickling Images.