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Q & A with Brandon McMillan

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

It's unquestionably a different offseason for Brandon McMillan than it was a year ago.

One summer ago, McMillan was coming off four WHL seasons with the Kelowna Rockets and was hoping to stand out among a multitude of Ducks prospects at training camp. Though he began the season with AHL Syracuse, the forward was eventually recalled on Nov. 20 and never looked back.

McMillan stayed with Anaheim the rest of the regular season campaign, totaling 11 goals and 21 points in 60 games while seeing time at all three forward positions. He added another goal and two points in six games against Nashville in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

The challenge for McMillan entering this training camp will be to maintain that grip on a roster spot and continue to push forward in his career. For his part, the 21-year-old is taking nothing for granted and is training hard back in Kelowna in anticipation of his second season in the league.

With a little more than five weeks remaining until camp opens in mid-September, McMillan chatted about several topcs in an exclusive Q&A with

How has the offseason treated you?
It’s been great. I went over to Europe for a couple weeks and traveled around there. I came back and have been living with a couple of roommates in Kelowna. The weather is just starting to get nice, so it’s been fun.

Were you at all surprised to end up playing 60 games with the Ducks as a rookie in 2010-11?
I thought I could do it and proved some people wrong. I’m always going to want to keep getting better and improving on the seasons as they go on. I think there is room for improvement there. If I go back and just be content with what happened last year, I could find myself trying to work my way back up. I want to come back and keep proving myself.

What is the difference for you between this offseason and last offseason?
I put a lot of pressure on myself last year to try to make the team. I feel a little more confident this year and feel I am getting better. I have a better mindset for sure.

What position do you feel most comfortable on the ice?
That’s a tough question because I feel comfortable in each of the three forward positions. It just takes a little time to get adjust to them. If I’m playing center, it might take me a couple of shifts to get used to it, and then I’m comfortable with it. Then if I go back on the wing, it might take me a shift. Sometimes it doesn’t take any time at all and I just jump right into it. I’m pretty comfortable with all three. Even getting switched around in the games, I can handle that.

How did you tweak your game to become more versatile?
It’s something I never really worked on and it just happened. I always played wing as a young guy. In junior, I played a couple of years as a winger. I used to play defense when I was a lot younger. I had that little bit of experience. For half of one year, my junior year put me back on defense. That is where that versatility came from. My last year of junior hockey, I played center. Throughout my junior career, I played all the positions. That is probably where it started.

Where were you when you were drafted by the Ducks in 2008 (third round, 85th overall), and what was that experience like?
I was at my friend’s house and it was early in the morning. We were trying to keep track and watch it on TV. It was pretty early in the morning because the draft was in Ottawa. I got a call from Brian Burke at about 8:30. I was so excited and started calling my family, but they already knew because they were watching the draft. It’s such an exciting feeling and something I will never forget.

What was it like to play during last year’s postseason run?
It was a great feeling. The hockey is totally different. Making the playoffs was something I was really striving for. We made that goal. We just have to try to make it to the next step. There is definitely a team here to make a good run. It was such a good feeling playing in the postseason and a whole new experience. I really enjoyed it. It’s nerve-racking at times going down the stretch and the games are so tight, but that is why you play the game.

Is there anything that you think stood out from the playoff loss to Nashville?
Little things are so important and you can never take any team for granted. If you outwork the other team, you are going to have a better chance of winning. That is what Nashville did to us. If we are going to make a deep run, we are going to have to learn how to outwork the other teams and do all the little things right. That is what it all comes down to, the small things. It’s a small margin of error in the playoffs. The little things, like just stopping instead of turning, is a huge difference.

Have you been able to follow the Ducks’ offseason moves and what are your thoughts?
I have been trying to keep track of everything. I think we have strengthened up the middle of the ice, and we have signed some really good players. We’ll see what happens at training camp. I’m going to try to make an impression and hopefully start the year off with the big club.

How much of an opportunity did you have to get advice from veterans on the club last season?
All of our veterans are tremendous and standout guys. They help you out so much and push you when you need to be pushed. There is such a good veteran presence on the Ducks and that is what I think really helped me in my first year. It helped me get through the tough days. It shows those guys’ character.

What guys on the team were you close with last year?
I lived really close to Dan Sexton. I was really good friends with Cam Fowler, Sbisa and those guys. The younger guys would always hang out together.

You currently wear No. 64 for the Ducks. Is there any special meaning of that number for you?
That is what they gave to me, but I like it because that is my dad’s birth year. It works out in a funny way like that. I would keep it for sure, but I heard that they like to keep the numbers lower in Anaheim. I won’t put up a fight if they tell me to change it.

What is your current training regimen?
I’m usually working out Monday-Friday every morning. I’m starting to skate now probably two or three times a week. I also do hot yoga on Saturdays. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

How much are you itching to get back into game action and be done with the offseason?
I’m ready because it wasn’t a great way to end. Just over the years, Anaheim hasn’t had a great start to the season. That is something that we should really look into and try to get ready for. You don’t want to put yourself behind the eight ball too quick because you don’t want to have to fight back like we did last year. It’s not easy trying to fight back like that when you are halfway through the season. It’s better to be ahead. If we get start ahead, that will be a lot easier and less stressful for the team.
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