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Wild’s Charlie Coyle has 'found a home' as the man in the middle

Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle (3) skates with the puck as Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (44) tries to check him in the first period at Scotiabank Arena on Jan. 3. Tom Szczerbowski / USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL -- Charlie Coyle likes to joke that he has been on the trading block for as long as he can remember. He was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Minnesota Wild before his first NHL game and his name seemingly has been floated for deals ever since.

Those rumors always seem to intensify whenever Coyle goes into a slump, and while he admitted that it used to both him. Now, he’s found a way to cope with that.

“It doesn’t faze me,” Coyle said. “That outside noise is usually just outside noise. There’s always rumors going around and it never happens. It’s just people talking and one thing leads to another and someone makes it bigger than it is. I know where I am right now. I know where I’m going to be.”

Lately, that goes for when Coyle is on the ice, too, as he finally has settled into a consistent role in the lineup.

Being perhaps the most versatile player for the Wild has almost been a detriment to forward Charlie Coyle, as coach Bruce Boudreau has moved him up and down the lineup with regularity.

Never one to complain, Coyle has been forced to grin and bear it, though he made sure to emphasize that his stellar play as of late isn’t by mistake. He has found his niche as the man in the middle, with Zach Parise and Luke Kunin by his side.

“I’ve been at one position on one line for a while now,” Coyle said. “This is probably the longest stretch I’ve ever had. My game is finally elevating because that’s what’s going on. I love that. I think it’s been good for our line. It’s been good for our team. I’m just happy to be contributing like that.”

While he still hasn’t found the stat sheet as often as he’d like, Coyle has been noticeable on the ice. His performance in Thursday’s 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets featured him flying around ice and making a definite impact despite not scoring.

“Once I’m moving, I can pick up my speed really well,” Coyle said. “That’s when I’m at my best, when I’m moving my feet and (playing) center allows me to do that. These last however many weeks I’ve been at center, I can feel my game going (up). It feels really nice.”

Boudreau said if Coyle continues to play like that, the results almost certainly will follow.

“Usually when a guy plays good and plays the right way they end up getting some luck,” Boudreau said. “I don’t think there’s one thing we can watch and say, ‘Oh boy. He’s moving today.’ You can just tell when he’s playing with confidence.”

That confidence is apparent to pretty much everyone, including best bud Jason Zucker.

“He’s playing unbelievable,” Zucker said. “I think he’s found his spot at center, and I think he’s playing really well with (Parise) and (Kunin). I think they’ve found great chemistry together.”

And it doesn’t sound as if Boudreau wants to mess with that. Not with the way Coyle, in particular, has been playing.

“I’ve probably moved him around more than I’d like to,” Boudreau said. “He’s sort of found a home right now and he’s got good chemistry with (Parise) and (Kunin) so hopefully they can stay together for a while longer.”

As for the constant rumors about Coyle being traded, well, they have dissipated over the past couple of weeks, to say the least.

“It’s just about blocking it out and staying positive,” Coyle said. “I know what I’m capable of, and I’m going to keep building. I’m still improving and I know I’ve got a lot more (to give). That’s what I’m going to continue to work toward. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says.”