Everybody makes mistakes, that you can be sure about. For most however, when an infraction is made, whether it is at work, home, while driving or within any aspect of our daily lives, accounts of it are not put in the papers, reported over the radio and T.V. and discussed and debated over morning coffee, pastry and various Internet forums.
When the local junior hockey star makes a mistake however, you can bet he won’t have that luxury, even when that mistake happens over 700 Km away.
Kootenay ICE forward Duncan Milroy will officially return to the ice tonight after serving a team imposed two-game suspension for breaking team rules when the Spokane Chiefs visit the Rec Plex for the club’s first home tilt in three weeks.
Although not confirmed publically, the discipline stemmed from an impromptu soiree within a team hotel room with Milroy and some old Bronco teammates after a 4-2 loss to Swift Current.
The issue’s attention, along with the disappointing 2-3-1 road trip through the Prairies has served as an improvised turning point for both the Duncan Milroy and the Kootenay ICE. After practice Tuesday, Milroy was anxious to put the hottest topic of discussion around town this week, behind him.
“Yeah, I’ve heard, everybody’s been asking me since we got back,” said Milroy of the controversy surrounding his suspension. “I know Jeff’s (Kootenay G.M. Chynoweth) under a lot of heat for it too but the fact of the matter was that a situation came up (after the Swift Current game) and I did deserve a suspension for it. I’ve paid my fine and management and myself have talked about it and I think we’ve cleared the air and we’ll start fresh from now. We’re looking forward to getting a new start, especially after the road trip.”
The incident and surrounding publicity brought into question Milroy’s commitment to both his teammates and the hockey club. It is a question the Montreal Canadiens’ second round draft pick answers quickly.
“I heard what they said on the radio,” said Milroy in referral to comments made by Kootenay management about Milroy recommitting himself to the club.
“And I think the people in Cranbrook need to be informed about what’s going on but in that regard, I think I am committed to the team. It was just a situation that I didn’t control properly. I had to pay the consequence for it and I did.”
“I took my lumps and now I’m looking forward and I know management is too.”
The incident and subsequent suspension also helped fuel the rumor mill that Milroy would be dealt, by him either demanding a trade or having management seek one out. Nothing, Milroy says, could be further from the truth.
“Committing to the team, I think everybody in here is committed and I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned once that I wanted to be traded from here,” Milroy added in response to the rampant speculation that the 19-yr-old sniper might be moved in light of the incident. “I’ve told Jeff Chynoweth that I want to end my junior career in Cranbrook. We have the best fans here in the whole CHL, you can ask anybody. Those fans help me out there and the guys in the dressing are a great bunch of guys, we’ve got a great team.”
“I don’t want to go, I know there’s a lot of speculation around the community that there was talk about me going and for a second there I actually did think I was going to go somewhere but know we’ve came to a point where its kind of a new start for everybody here, including myself and the coaches amongst each other and were just going go forward.”
“I’m going to help the Kootenay ICE get back to where we want to be, which is the Memorial Cup.”
Fighting not to succumb to the pressures brought about by the high expectations of himself, his teammates, team management, fans and so on, Milroy isn’t about to use it as an excuse for his actions. But there is constant pressure. At the age of nineteen, most teenagers about to enter adulthood are more concerned about chasing girls, getting a job or wondering where the next ‘Kegger’ is going to be on the weekend. Playing under the ever intrusive microscope of major junior hockey and being a high draft pick of the Montreal Canadians, where winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, the pressure of succeeding does mount.
“It’s not really too much. You can always throw in excuses like we went to the Memorial Cup; I only had two weeks off (over the summer), you can throw out excuses left and right. The fact of the matter is that if you want to get to the next level, you have to be strong mentally. You have to be able to handle ten times as much pressure from everybody such as a whole city of two million people breathing down your neck with reporters that can run you out of town,” said Milroy in reference to the hockey-mad city of Montreal.
“Sometimes it’s tough but at the same time I like to thrive on a situation like that. I think the suspension’s going to help me to regain my focus. I felt like I was at a standstill and I think it looked like it out there too. The work ethic was there but sometimes my brain wasn’t. In light of the suspension and the agreement that the coaching staff and myself have come to, we’ll move forward. I feel confident that me and my individual goals will start picking up and me and my team goals, which is getting back to winning a Memorial Cup championship, is definitely back on track.”
Quick Hits – Blueliner Brad Zanon, acquired in a trade last week for Steve Makway, will make his Kootenay debut tonight against Spokane . . . Kyle Sheen, out with a broken thumb suffered in a fight with Vancouver’s Tyson Marsh October 2, has had his cast removed and will be cleared to play against the Chiefs. Teammate Curtis Fransoo suffered a sprained ankle just before the road trip and is expected to be out another two weeks.