Morin eager to prove himself with Hawks

CHICAGO -- Jeremy Morin had been ready for another chance with the Chicago Blackhawks long before he was recalled Friday.

Morin had been playing some of the best hockey of his career over the last month and a half with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He recorded points in 15 of his last 16 games, which included a 13-game points streak, and compiled 13 goals and 10 assists during that span.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious to get back up here,” Morin said after the Blackhawks’ morning skate on Friday. “I’m here now. That’s all I can ask for. I’m just excited.

“I feel like [my production is a result of] just being comfortable. I feel really comfortable on the ice. Obviously, I matured. I’m getting stronger every year. I think right now I’m skating the best I’ve skated. That obviously helps your game out a lot. Hopefully I bring that up here and bring some energy and gets thing done.”

IceHogs coach Ted Dent has been with Morin for some time now, and Morin’s play even opened his eyes.

“I think the last six weeks he’s been the best player I’ve seen him be in the four years he’s been in Rockford,” Dent said in a phone interview Friday. “Just the way he’s skating, he just took it to another level. His overall game, his compete level, his finish around the net, most of all his skating has been exceptional.”

Morin made the trip on I-90 from Rockford to Chicago for the fourth time this season. He was hopeful he wouldn’t have to encounter the interstate’s construction again for some time and finally stick with the Blackhawks for the rest of the season.

Morin thought over the last few months he continued to address Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s concerns with his game.

“[The Blackhawks wanted me to] just kind of continue to grow my game,” Morin said. “I think I needed to mature as a player, and I think I’ve been trying to do that all year. I feel comfortable in game right now, so I’m excited to get out there and play.”

Quenneville thought Morin was returning to the Blackhawks as a more polished player.

"We've seen him here this year," Quenneville said. "He's really made some progress in his game, especially when he was playing up here. He had some purpose to his game. I thought he had some good energy, physically involved. He really had some good pace. He's played well down there. He's had a real good stretch over some recent games."

Despite Morin’s numbers, he didn’t get a chance with the Blackhawks until Friday because of where the team stood with its salary cap. He was only able to get recalled Friday after the Blackhawks placed Patrick Kane on the long-term injured reserve.

Dent had sensed Morin was disappointed when his former IceHogs teammate Brandon Pirri and other AHL players were getting traded and being given NHL opportunities and Morin wasn’t.

“I know he had mixed emotions after the trade deadline,” Dent said. “There was some movement to different organizations. He was still with us in Rockford. I had a talk with him. I know he was a little down after the fact he wasn’t getting a chance in the NHL. He stuck with it. I told him things would work out. I’m glad he got the call. Now he can show his stuff.”

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Morin deserved a shot to be in the NHL.

“Jeremy Morin's had a great season for us and he was here a little bit earlier in the season and he played maybe a handful of games, but since he's gone back to Rockford he's been one of the best players in the American League, scoring goals almost every game and he certainly deserves a chance to play in the NHL,” Bowman said. “He provides some offense, some energy and Jeremy's worked hard, so I've got to give him credit for sticking with it. It's hard for young kids when they go up and down a bit, but he went down and played great for us. So, we're very excited for that."