People often like to talk about “character guys”. The ones who lead teams, brighten locker rooms, and defend their teammates.
Dan Milan fits the bill.
Milan, who has played for five ECHL teams in seven years, was signed by the Reading Royals after a 16-point campaign with the Wheeling Nailers last season.
He isn’t known for his scoring numbers, however. In 329 games, he’s recorded 64 points. Most noticable is his 588 career penalty minutes.
Leadership is not quantifiable, making it difficult to see what certain players bring to the table, but Milan’s penalty kill minutes exemplify his leadership. Milan is one of the Royals’ top penalty-killers, and that’s something he has worked on throughout his career.
“I’ve always been the guy who killed penalties,” Milan said. “It’s one of those things, the more you play, the more years you play, the more techniques you learn, nothing’s new. You just got to adapt and adjust and, again, read the situation.”
That experience has helped Milan refine how he plays while shorthanded.
“I try to be firm on pucks, play hard, you know, not overcommit myself at the wrong times, read the play,” he said. “A penalty kill’s not necessarily a time where you go around and hit everybody and whatever. It’s more so you’ve got to read and react, and when you’ve got the chance to get the puck down, get it down. If you’re on your backhand or something like that, you look for an option to go out, a teammate that’s open or whatever. I just try to block shots, play hard, and read the situation.”
It’s been an easy transition into the Royals’ locker room for Milan. He’s no stranger to making big impacts quickly, as he was named the alternate captain of the Wichita Thunder in his second season with the team in 2015-16.
It’s all about the family for Milan.
“I definitely try to bring a calm, collective, family environment,” he said. “Sounds weird, but they’re your brothers, and you want to make sure everybody is on the same page and sticks together.”
Milan believes that for a team to succeed, a sense of togetherness has to be present. There needs to be a positive attitude at all times, even through slumps. He has seen what happens to teams when negativity creeps in.
“Just through teams that I’ve seen that have been very successful and teams that have not been successful, I try to just dissect, you know, where things went wrong, where things went right, and learn from that and bring it into a new team.”
Off the ice, Milan has taken an interest in fashion and has his own fashion line called Ageless Milan. Although his name is pronounced My-lin, he changed it for his line.
“It’s My-lin, but I’ll say Ageless Mee-lahn sounds a little more fashionable, a little more Italian.”
Fashion has always been a passion of Milan’s, and he attributes that to his dad.
“I think that kind of started with my dad. My dad has always taken to looking good and whatnot,” he said.
Milan specifically pointed out his dark pair of dress shoes that glistened in the light of the media room.
“I mean, these boots that I got on right now, my dad had these boots all growing up, so I was like, ‘I’m gonna get me a pair, they look pretty sweet.’”
In addition to his fashion line, he promised his parents that he would get his degree, which he is currently working on through Central Michigan University’s online program for Business Administration.
He hasn’t been able to focus fully on his line due to hockey and school, but he had a message for this upcoming holiday season.
“I’ll tell you what’s next is making my family and friends and other people, you know, some new… You know, it’s a little bit of a secret. I’ve got some Christmas gifts in the mix here,” Milan said, grinning.
And at the end of the day, it saves him money on Christmas gifts.
Milan has proven that he brings more than just toughness on the ice. His presence makes everyone happier and better because of it. Even after losses, he always has a smile on his face when talking to the media.
Teammates love him, coaches love him, and fans love him.
Every locker room could use a guy like Milan.
Was meant to be published at RoyalsHockey.com before Dan Milan was traded