Greater Sud­bury still feels like home, Mil­ley says

The Sudbury Star - - SPORTS - Blee­son@post­media.com Twit­ter: @ben_lee­son

“It has been great, though, and the staff has been awe­some, (gen­eral man­ager) James Boy and (as­sis­tant GM) Jan Egert have been great, and we feel we have a re­ally close group of play­ers. We have a young team, but a re­ally close group of guys and I think that will help us out in the long run.”

Ot­tawa had a 4-3-1-0 record head­ing into a game in North Bay on Thurs­day night. Sud­bury owns a 1-4-2-0 mark and is still search­ing for its first win at home.

Mil­ley, one of the more skilled of­fen­sive play­ers in Wolves his­tory, col­lected 368 points in 259 games with the Nickel City squad from 1996 to 2000. He re­mains the last Sud­bury player to top the 50-goal plateau, hav­ing done so twice.

A sec­ond-round pick of the NHL’s Buf­falo Sabres in 1998, he split time be­tween the big league and mi­nors be­fore start­ing a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in Ger­many, even win­ning a scor­ing cham­pi­onship in 2012.

He looks for­ward to re­turn­ing to the El­gin Street Barn.

“As soon as I got the coach­ing job here, I looked at the sched­ule and the first thing I looked at was play­ing in Sud­bury,” Mil­ley said. “I lived up there even while I was play­ing pro, on Agnew Lake, I still keep in close con­tact with my bil­lets and I have a lot of close friends in Sud­bury, so it’s a home away from home.”

He re­mains grate­ful to the Burgess fam­ily, long­time for­mer own­ers of the Wolves, as well as cur­rent ex­ec­u­tives Blaine Smith and Ken MacKen­zie.

“Those are all peo­ple who helped me along and there’s def­i­nitely a lot of great mem­o­ries there,” Mil­ley said. “Sud­bury will al­ways have a spe­cial place in my heart.”

To­day’s OHL is a less phys­i­cal, yet faster and more skill-ori­ented game than dur­ing Mil­ley’s own play­ing days, yet he feels play­ers can ben­e­fit from much of the same ad­vice, in­clud­ing some he wishes he heard sooner.

“Re­al­ize the op­por­tu­nity you have at hand,” he said. “Don’t take it for granted. It’s such a short span of your ca­reer, only four years maybe, and you have to learn so much in those four years and you can’t let any day slip by, be­cause you’re con­stantly un­der the watch of peo­ple, al­ways in­ter­view­ing for your next step. You can’t take any days off.”

Fri­day’s game marks a de­mand­ing three-in-three week­end for the Wolves, which also in­cludes travel to Peter­bor­ough on Satur­day at 4 p.m. and Oshawa on Sun­day at 6 p.m.

They’ll have lit­tle time to rest be­fore re­turn­ing home to host the Soo Greyhounds in a rare Wed­nes­day game. Face­off is set for 7 p.m.

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