Players have come and gone from the minor leagues to the Ducks and back, but Brandon McMillan wasn't among them.
A surprise as a rookie, a disappointment as a sophomore and buried on the organization depth chart in his third year, McMillan resurfaced with the big club Monday as he was recalled from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League.
Summoned because winger Kyle Palmieri was out because of an upper-body injury suffered Saturday, McMillan played in his first game with the Ducks since December 2011.
The call-up was a happy moment that the forward could smile about.
"I knew I was playing really well and I knew if I kept playing the same way, I was going to get an opportunity," said McMillan, who was on the fourth line and played 6 1/2 minutes in a 5-4 shootout loss to Phoenix. "I realized I could come back in and be able to prove myself again.
"Sitting down there and just waiting, it wasn't good enough. It's not good enough. I want to be here and this is where I want to play."
McMillan has had to work his way back from a slow start with Norfolk and a broken left arm suffered Dec. 28 that knocked him out for 19 games. A strong eight-game span in which he scored four goals earned him a promotion.
During the past 14 months, McMillan has watched many of his AHL teammates get the call while he tried to rediscover his game. He might not be with the Ducks for long, but there's a new appreciation now that it's not a given.
"I'm just happy to be back here and be able to prove myself again," he said. "Because it's been a long time. It was a little frustrating there for a while. Now I can't take anything for granted now that I'm here.
"I've just got to take it all in. Work, work, work."
Palmieri is day to day after being hit by Phoenix's Raffi Torres in the first period. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau believes it is a short-term injury and is hopeful Palmieri can return Wednesday when the teams play a third consecutive game, this time in Anaheim.
McMillan's patience finally is rewarded with Ducks' call-up
Orange County Register | Mar 5