In the run up to the new season, Chasing Dragons will catch up with as many Blaze players as possible and ask them ten questions about life and hockey. We start with the Blaze’s newest signing, forward Brian McMillin.
Brian McMillin is a guy who’s already starting to create a little excitement in Coventry. The 6’2, 203lb American forward was announced as signing only on Friday morning, but since then Blaze forums and Blaze fan Twitter have been abuzz with quiet excitement over his arrival and what role he’ll play. You can understand the excitement, though-it’s not often a team gets to sign a current champion and playoff MVP, both honours that Brian won last season.
After his signing was announced Brian kindly agreed to answer some questions about his hockey career, his move to Europe and what Blaze fans can expect from him this season for me. And here they are. Brian’s answers are in italics, anything that isn’t is my addition:
Q- What made you decide to leave North American hockey and try your luck in Europe?
It’s been a goal of mine to eventually play in Europe since college and I felt like it was good time in both my career and personal life to give it a shot. Q- What made you decide to play in the Elite League, and particularly with the Blaze, this season?
I’ve talked to quite a few guys who have played in the Elite League (Brian played with current and former Nottingham Panthers Bruce Graham and Dominic D’Amour in Allen in 2011/12, and also former Dundee Star Mark Nebus, for example) and they all seemed to think it would be a good fit for me. They all had good things to say about Coventry as well, and after talking with the team I felt comfortable enough to make the jump.
Q- You’re from Minnesota-one of the hotbeds of hockey in North America. Growing up, did you want to be anything but a hockey player?
Haha no, not really. I have post-hockey aspirations but hockey has always been number one.
Q- How would you describe your style of play?
I think I am a smart, 2-way player. I take pride in my defensive play and try to use my size to be a force around the net in the offensive zone.
Q- What would you say is your best quality on the ice?
Consistency. I don’t have the high end talent of some but I keep my game at a high level by working hard and smart on a nightly basis.
Q- What’s your favourite career moment to date?
I would say finishing off our President’s Cup run in Allen this year. Winning my first championship, especially the way we did it, will always be special.
Q- You’re from a small town in Minnesota (Roseau) where high-school hockey is incredibly important-what was it like being captain of one of the best high school teams in North America and do you think it helped you as a player?
It was a great experience. Anytime your teammates make you a captain its a great honor, and when you are given that responsibility I think you have to take your game to another level. It definitely helped me grow both as a person and a player.
Q- You’ve spent much of your career being used as a defensive forward (in college and the CHL), but in Coventry you’ll probably be relied upon for scoring as you were in Allen’s championship run-are you excited by the chance to play a more offensive style?
I definitely look forward to being relied upon more in the offensive zone, but I also don’t think I will have to change my game much to get that done. Even in the playoffs this past year I played a defense first game while taking advantage of my opportunities offensively.
Q- Moving from Minnesota to Colorado and then Texas means you’ve already spent most of your hockey career far from home…are you looking forward to seeing as much of the UK as you can while over here?
Yes, absolutely. I love to travel and look forward to seeing all the UK has to offer.
Q- Have you been keeping an eye on the competition in the EIHL? Any teams you’re particularly looking forward to playing?
Yes, I know a lot of guys who have played in the EIHL so I have always kept up with the league. I’m just excited to get going and experience playing in some different places.
Brian certainly sounds excited to play here…and while it takes a lot to get me excited about a player, I am about this signing-he seems to me to be a similar type of player to Dan Carlson. And we all know how well THAT signing turned out…
My thanks to Brian for taking the time to answer the questions, and welcome to Coventry. It looks like there may be a few McMillin jerseys around the Skydome stands next season…