It’s no secret that Duncan Milroy was surprised to find himself traded to the Kootenay ICE last month. It’s also no secret that Milroy is considered something of a dominant offensive force in the WHL. Being a 2001 second round NHL draft pick (37th overall) of the Montreal Canadiens will do that for you. Then for a player walk into a new town for a new team and pick up where he left off on his old club wouldn’t be too far out of the realm of possibility, would it? Perhaps, at least, at first. Filling the shoes of a popular team leader would be daunting by any means but one that actually brought some young fans to tears at the news of the trade? Talk about being behind the eightball.
Period of adjustment, new surroundings, post-trade slump – call it what you will – Milroy was experiencing it, and then some. No pressure or anything. Just replace a player that was not only captain but a tireless worker, played in almost every situation and was viewed upon, rightly or wrongly, as almost never making a mistake.
Duncan Milroy had his work cut out for him.
A month after the trade, Milroy is starting to not only feel more comfortable in the colors of the Kootenay ICE but look more comfortable on the ice too. After last weekend’s three-game set which saw the Edmonton native amass five points and be a factor in every contest, the contribution requested of Milroy is becoming somewhat more clear. And Milroy is eager to respond. “I think I’ve just been playing my game, being myself,” said Milroy after Saturday’s 6-3 win over the Hitmen. “I think I fit in with the team pretty well now. My role has been established and I know what the guys expect of me now and I know what I expect of them.”
Milroy, who started off on the right foot when he arrived in Cranbrook by scoring a goal on his first shot in a game against the Chiefs in Spokane and then added three helpers a few nights later at home against Red Deer, went into a bit of a point-scoring slump before the Christmas break and didn’t register on the score-sheet for four consecutive games. Not something you’d expect from one of the league’s premier scorers over the last two and a half seasons. Coupled with the fact that his trade counterpart Jason Jaffray was scoring in bunches with the Broncos, the pressure was starting to mount.
That pressure was relieved over the weekend with a five-point outburst in three contests and the general consensus that Milroy and line-mate Tomas Plihal had established themselves as a unit Coach Ryan McGill might want to think twice about breaking up. Especially after Plihal’s nine point weekend over the three games.
Consider the adjustment period over. “I feel a lot more comfortable with the guys and going out there and playing. I’m getting a lot of my wind back,” said Milroy. “I think that the Christmas break was good for all of us. We’ve all come back and I think we’ve all stepped up our play a little bit. The luck hasn’t been there lately but things are starting to go our way again.”
G.M. Jeff Chynoweth wasn’t worried at all about Milroy’s adjustment period or the mini-slump. He knew it was only a matter of time. “You remember when we traded for Zdenek Blatny? ,” Chynoweth asked rhetorically after discussing Milroy’s plight. “He was snake-bit for seven games before he scored. Then he scored a fluke against the Tigers and the floodgates opened and he never looked back.
“I was never worried about Duncan’s production or familiarization after he arrived. With him we knew it only be a matter of time.”