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Brad Mills, Jeremy Morin make season debuts for Hawks

Updated: November 28, 2013 7:00AM

As a 30-year-old with only 31 NHL games under his belt — and none since Nov. 5, 2011 — Brad Mills didn’t exactly seem to be on the brink of getting a call to suit up for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Mills knew that. But he also knew he had a very strong training camp with the Blackhawks, and, hey, you never know.

“I’ve been telling myself the whole positive-thinking thing,” Mills said before making his Hawks debut Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. “You want to feel there’s an opportunity coming. It helps to motivate you. So when it comes, it’s not completely out of the blue. But it’s a little bit of a surprise.”

Mills — whose lone NHL goal came at the United Center on Nov. 3, 2011, when he was with the New Jersey Devils — was one of two Hawks making their season debuts, as he and Jeremy Morin were called up from Rockford on Friday. Morin played right wing on the third line alongside Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw, and Mills took Ben Smith’s spot on the right side of the fourth line. Mills also saw some time as a penalty-killer with Michal Handzus out of the lineup with an upper-body injury. He’s a natural center, so he can help with faceoffs, as well.

Mills, who had a goal and two assists in training camp and two goals and two assists through eight games in Rockford, described himself as a “hard-nosed, intense, physical guy.”

“I think I’ve got a lot of speed, which helps me to close gaps and finish checks, create turnovers and just make life miserable for the other team,” Mills said.

Morin, meanwhile, was the last of the Hawks’ NHL-ready prospects to get the call. He competed with Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Pirri and Joakim Nordstrom for a spot out of camp but had to wait his turn. Morin had played in 13 games over the last three seasons with the Hawks, posting three goals and two assists.

“It’s always nice to get the call and be able to put on the uniform and try to prove that you can play at this level,” he said.

“I’m excited for the opportunity.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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