CHICAGO -- Jeremy Morin is on the cusp of achieving his dream. After spending the majority of the last four seasons with the Rockford IceHogs, Morin just might have permanently graduated to the National Hockey League.
But he knows he’s not there yet as a permanent fixture, but is in a good spot as the Blackhawks engage in another lengthy playoff run.
“It’s tough to make that jump to be an NHL player, but hopefully I’ve put myself in a good position to do that, and I’m here now and need to do the most with this opportunity,” said Morin.
Over the past couple of seasons, Morin has been a member of the Blackhawks “Black Aces”, essentially the team’s practice squad for the postseason. Black Aces are technically on recall to the parent club and theoretically could be inserted into the lineup if a need arises. But the reality is, the group practices on their own, separate from the team, dress in separate locker rooms, are tucked away in the arena during home games and rarely get to travel with the team.
The difference for Morin this time around is that he’s been a part of the playoff run. The winger has appeared in two postseason games to date for the Blackhawks but has had the opportunity of experiencing the daily playoff grind.
“You’re in the mix a little bit more and get to see what the guys go through in the playoffs and get what it takes to win in the playoffs,” said Morin. “Getting a couple of games there was huge for my experience level and confidence. Hopefully we have a couple more weeks of this.”
After a second straight solid season in Rockford where he led the IceHogs with 24 goals while appearing in just 47 games, Morin appears to have taken that next step in his development. To go along with his 47 total points in Rockford, he also chipped in 5g-6a-11pts in 24 regular season games with the Blackhawks.
For his efforts, Morin was named Rockford’s MVP, averaging a point a game while balancing four recalls to the Blackhawks. Morin’s final recall of the season came on March 20, and it very well could mark the last as he is on the verge of being a full-time NHLer. The Auburn, New York native is just trying to take it all in right now and not look too far ahead.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Morin. “Obviously everyone wants to be playing, but at the same time, just to be a part of it in the locker room and be around the guys. I’m just trying to soak it all up. It’s human nature to want to be a part of it and be on the ice, but you just have to be ready and you never know because you could be playing in the next game.”
Probably the most difficult aspect for Morin is waiting for his turn to get into the lineup and maintaining the work ethic that got him to Chicago. After establishing himself in Rockford over the past four seasons as a top line forward, the majority of Morin’s work over the past six weeks has come during the practice sessions.
“It’s a mental grind for sure to know that you have to be ready at all times,” commented Morin. “It’s part of it. Staying in shape, skating after practice, it kind of gets tough at times. You have to do what it takes and obviously you’re not playing, but you’re part of it in some way.”
On July, 1, Morin will become a restricted free agent, meaning the Blackhawks can extend a qualifying offer to the winger. Every season, NHL teams must deal with the comings and goings of a handful of players and for Chicago, Morin could be a guy that gets plugged into the lineup for the 2014-15 season.