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Jeremy Morin, Steve Montador, and the IceHogs

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  By Tony DeFrancesco

Jeremy Morin is ready for his chance in the NHL ( FLICKR / The Mel )
Last Saturday, Jimmy Hayes netted a hat trick along with two assists to complete his five point night. Then on the following Wednesday, he was called up over Jeremy Morin to fill left wing slot on the second line due to Patrick Sharp's absence. Did Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks make the right choice here?

I'm not going to beat around the bush, the answer is simply no.

I did not come to this conclusion solely based on Hayes performance against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night. Although many fans certainly acknowledged his slothy and top heavy performance lined up alongside Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane. He didn't fit, and although I am a believer of second and sometimes third chances, I don't think that this is a slot that fits for Jimmy Hayes in the NHL at this time. I also do not believe that one game defines a career, nor does it define the future of a player in the NHL.

That said, while Hayes was stumbling around Thursday night trying to keep up with the big boys, I had a chance to catch Jeremy Morin live last night against the Chicago Wolves. Morin scored two goals, including a shorthanded game winning goal, and was clearly the best player on the ice for both teams.

His first goal came off an excellent pass from Martin St. Pierre, where Morin found a soft spot behind the Chicago defense after Ben Smith drew two defenders towards the net. Later in the game, Morin received an excellent chance in the slot, he fired a heavy puck and beat Joe Cannata but just missed the top left corner. Minutes later Morin received another excellent chance on a breakaway, but couldn't stuff the puck past Cannata after pulling the puck on his backhand. Finally, Brandon Pirri and Jeremy Morin created a 2-on-1 break while shorthanded with Pirri eventually finding Morin to end the game 4-3 in Rockford's favor.

Talking to many IceHogs fans, this is not an uncommon theme with Morin. In his last five games, he has scored seven goals in similar fashion and continues to be a top contributor on the IceHogs.

[adcode200]What makes Morin a special offensive player isn't just the fact that he can score goals, but it's the way he scores goals that has a high chance of translating to the NHL level. Morin may not be a speed demon but he can certainly skate well and find the soft areas on the ice to receive a pass and ultimately get a great look at the net. Folks, this is how Patrick Sharp has made a career out of playing with Patrick Kane. Re-read those scoring sequences against the Wolves and you will find that Morin sounds eerily similar to Sharp.

Ultimately, if there is anyone in the system that can emulate what Sharp brought to the team, it's Jeremy Morin. Much like Sharp early in his career, Morin also brings a physical edge to the rink and doesn't shy away from contact, at the same time he's smart enough to hide in open areas on the ice in the right situations. Lest we forget, Sharp had a huge chip on his shoulder pre-Toews and Kane, until he was able to fully take advantage of his sniper ability with Patrick Kane's vision and dropped the grit down a few notches.

Moving on, I also had a chance to see Steve Montador in action. These days Montador has opted to wear a visor for the first time in his career. Although, I'm not sure whether that is for precautionary reasons or a permanent change. I will admit, Montador was noticeably a step behind the play in the first period and a half, but as the game progressed he did improve. For a player that has missed over a year of game action, it didn't bother me too much, but also reinforced the idea behind the Blackhawks sending him down for a conditioning stint. If I had to bet on his return to Chicago, he still may be a week or two away depending on how fast he can get back to game speed.

Another player I kept my eye on was Klas Dahlbeck. The prototypical Swedish shot blocker lived up to all of my expectations, he is a very effective stay at home defenseman, but is still a few years away from making an NHL impact. On the flipside of the defensive spectrum, Adam Clendening lived up to my expectations as an effective offensive defenseman and was a calming influence who made the right choices with the puck, as well as effectively carrying the play from the back-end. Somewhere in between these two players is Ryan Stanton, by far coming away as the best all around IceHogs defenseman.

As far as I'm concerned, there is very little in Rockford in terms of NHL-ready defenseman, other than Montador, which is clearly the reason that Stan Bowman looked for one year band-aids in Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank.

On the flip side, the forward depth in the organization dives deep into Rockford. Jimmy Hayes may have, or may not have been the right choice at this time to fill Sharp's slot, but it's not as if he is the only choice with Jeremy Morin, Brandon Pirri, and Ben Smith leading the charge in NHL-ready talent on the farm.

It makes me wonder, will the Blackhawks eventually look to the trade market to translate some of this depth into someone that can help Chicago win now? With prospects such as Mark McNeill, Phillip Danault, Kevin Hayes, and Garrett Ross ready to make the jump into the American Hockey League, perhaps at some point the numbers will force them to make a deal.

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EDITORS NOTE — Visors are mandatory in the American Hockey League, so Montador is required to wear one while playing for the Rockford IceHogs. Whether he will wear one in the National Hockey League is not yet determined. Thanks to Stephen Elfering for that tidbit.

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15 Comments | Join the discussion

Good write up Ton!

Also? Mo! Mo! Mo! My bandwagon has not changed, heh.
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Tony DeFrancesco
Mar 17 2013 06:14 PM
He was very impressive. Honestly with Sharp out, it's mind boggling that they wouldn't call him up. He's the closest thing they have to replace Sharp on that LW slot with Bolland and Kane.

I like Jimmy Hayes, don't get me wrong, but to me he's the type of guy that can replace Bickell on the third line after this season if Bryan isn't re-signed.
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I don't think it's that crazy they called up Hayes. He's been playing great and you can tell by previous moves that Q likes the extra size. The team is already pretty small so I think it's good to have someone like Hayes up. I'm sure Morin will get his chance at some point this season.
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Tony DeFrancesco
Mar 17 2013 08:09 PM

I don't think it's that crazy they called up Hayes. He's been playing great and you can tell by previous moves that Q likes the extra size. The team is already pretty small so I think it's good to have someone like Hayes up. I'm sure Morin will get his chance at some point this season.


I understand that aspect of it, like I said I think Hayes is a good player, just not for the top 2 lines. I think Hayes works better on the bottom two lines, he may be productive in the AHL but I'm not so sure his offensive game translates to the NHL level, but it wouldn't be the first time or last time I'm wrong. I think Morin brings a better skill set if they were looking to replace Sharp's ability. Now if the goal was to get bigger, then of course Hayes was the right choice. If they wanted someone to play LW with Bolland and Kane, I would have preferred Morin. He's 6' 1" but remember hes also pretty physical too. Then again, maybe the plan is to keep Hayes the rest of the year even when Sharp returns, and his time now is just to get his feet wet for the playoff run. I wouldn't mind Hayes on that 4th line.

I hope he gets his chance, but there's only 20 games left. This is literally like the final stretch of the season in a full season, lol.
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Pretty bush league move by Morin punching a guy that gets knocked into the bench
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Pretty bush league move by Morin punching a guy that gets knocked into the bench


That is pretty weak comment when you do not watch the video to see what led up to that.

Ben Smith is boarded into an open door to the bench. Morin was standing up for his team mate. While the punch was not the best
action to take it was better then coming off the bench to fight him.

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How did Vandermeer not get penalized for rushing into the Hogs bench? Seriously, he's in the middle of the bench trading pucnhes and he is not listed on the list of 27 penalties assessed for the incident.
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That's not boarding. Both players engaged the hit and the door wasn't closed - which made it bad/worse than what it was. There's no reason to start uppercutting someone when you're not in the play
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That is pretty weak comment when you do not watch the video to see what led up to that.

Ben Smith is boarded into an open door to the bench. Morin was standing up for his team mate. While the punch was not the best
action to take it was better then coming off the bench to fight him.

4


Agreed. And Lord knows I am not one to condone Rockford's meathead tendencies with the stupid and lazy penalties this season but they have calmed down and gotten better of late but Mo has a long history of always standing up for teammates (and obviously not in a cliche "enforcer" way). I will take this spontaneous reaction based on a spit second perception of harmful intent over the bullshit staged crap the Hawks have Bollig up for every day and twice on Sundays.

The game was down to 4 secs of regulation and the Hogs were gonna win, it was the second time this weekend the Hogs were going to beat the Wolves, and things are always chippy between these teams (pre-dating all of Canucks affiliation and therefore rivalry media hype), As the Hogs were obviously about to win the game and Mo had the GWG just like he did on Friday against the Wolves there is no reason to think he was frustrated or itching for a fight or being all meathead-y for the sake of meatheadedness. He's leading the team in goals and has brought a consistently good game all season as well as being particularly on fire since the lockout, he's played a noticeably more mature game this season and that reflects in his PIM going way down. He didn't make the right decision in the heat of the moment but at least it was heat of the moment and defending what he perceived at the time as a slam against one of the Hogs stand-up guy teammates in Ben Smith who only recently returned from a hand injury he himself got from a fight. I thought of it as Mo thinking he needed to stand up for Smith because he thought Smith wasn't able to when he was down on the floor of the bench.
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How did Vandermeer not get penalized for rushing into the Hogs bench? Seriously, he's in the middle of the bench trading pucnhes and he is not listed on the list of 27 penalties assessed for the incident.


I was wondering that too! But also why Brookbank wasn't penalized too to be fair.
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Is the AHL like the NHL when the kid last year got the 8 game suspension they just shipped him down... haha bring Morin up for a game. I don't remember if this is exactly what happen. But it was Branden Smith. (actually I believe the NHL suspended him 5 regular season games and 3 pre-season and they shipped him down, and the AHL suspended him 3 games, Nice Exchange rate Michigan!)
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http://icehogs.com/news/?article_id=3741


Amazing.......... Vandermeer is in the Rockford box throw punches everywhere and yet..................???

Does Shanahan handle AHL discipline as well?
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Amazing.......... Vandermeer is in the Rockford box throw punches everywhere and yet..................???

Does Shanahan handle AHL discipline as well?


I was just so relieved that Mo only got one game I really didn't even care anymore about the Vandermeer garbage. It'll be a tough slog for Friday's game but on the brightest side this whole mess will be past history for all the affected Hogs on Saturday so I'll take it!
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