- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ted Dent hopes to never see Jeremy Morin in Rockford again.
Dent has nothing against Morin. He actually hopes for the best for Morin. Dent spent parts of the past four seasons working with Morin as the AHL's Rockford IceHogs coach. Dent witnessed Morin go through highs and lows on the ice and even off it as he's been sent back and forth between the Chicago Blackhawks and IceHogs over the years.
Morin was last recalled by the Blackhawks on March 21, his fourth stint in the NHL this season. Unlike the previous three trips to Chicago, Morin is finally showing this time around why he flourished for Dent in the AHL and has been considered one of the organization's top prospects.
Morin has excelled in the past three games while joining Bryan Bickell and Peter Regin on a line. Of the team's 10 goals during their current three-game winning streak, Morin scored twice and had the primary assist on two other goals. He's also had a 73.7 Corsi percentage (the Blackhawks had 42 shots for, 15 against when he was on the ice) during those three games.
If Morin can continue to win over Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville with his play, Dent may have his wish for Morin granted.
"Every time a guy goes up, you hope you never have to see them for their individual careers again," Dent said in a phone interview on Monday. "Being selfish sometimes, it's hard to lose good hockey players.
"I've been here the same amount of time as Jeremy's four years. We know each other really well. We have a really good working relationship. We always want to see guys go up and have success with the Blackhawks."
Morin was a different player for Dent leading up to his last promotion. He had 13 goals and 10 assists in his past 16 games with the IceHogs.
"He left with a lot of confidence for sure," Dent said. "He was playing at a very high level for us. Scored a lot of goals, skating as well I've seen him skate in four years. I'm sure he's just excited to get up and get an opportunity."
Morin still had be patient once he arrived to Chicago. He was a healthy scratch his first game with the Blackhawks. He played two consecutive games and then was a healthy scratch again. He played one game and then was a healthy scratch for two more games.
After being a healthy scratch against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 30, Morin began his ascension against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. He only played 8:56, but his possession numbers were encouraging (the Blackhawks had a 9-4 shot advantage with him on the ice) and he had a primary assist on a Bickell goal in a 3-2 shootout win over the Wild.
Morin's ice time increased the following day against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and his production followed as well. He scored a goal in the first period off a wrist shot from the right circle and again was among the team's top Corsi leaders at 68 percent (17 shots for, eight against).
After a day off on Saturday, Morin played his best NHL game yet on Sunday. He scored a goal by rushing the net off a rebound and perfectly set up Patrick Sharp for a goal on a 2-on-1 rush. It was Morin's first multi-point game in 36 career NHL games. He also had a 84.2 Corsi (16 shots for, three against) in the 4-2 win over the Blues.
Sharp was somewhat surprised Morin pushed the puck his way on Sunday, but count Sharp among those impressed by Morin's play as of late.
"Mo is a great shooter in his own right," Sharp said on Sunday. "I thought for sure he was going to take that one to the net and get a shot off, especially after scoring one earlier in the period. He's been playing awesome since his last recall here. He's got speed. He's got energy. He plays hard, and he's got a good scoring touch. When he kind of feathered that one there, it was coming slow because I think he was hesitant. He didn't want to pass it. So it came over nice and slow, and I was able to get a good shot off."
Quenneville thought Morin was playing more sure of himself since his last time with the Blackhawks in December.
"I think Morin's got a little more confidence with the puck," Quenneville said on Sunday. "I think he's one of those guys up the wing. He's got a big shot. He's simple, direct, straight ahead. I think he got a little more comfortable with the puck and the way we have played. I think it's starting to show he has a little more purpose behind his play."
Morin believed he wasn't thinking as much before and now just allowing his hockey instincts take over.
"I just think I'm comfortable out there," Morin said on Sunday. "Before, I was thinking too much. I'm just kind of playing the game right now, just letting things come."
As excited as Morin has been about playing and contributing, he's also not getting ahead of himself. Quenneville has been known to take away ice time as quickly as he gives it based on younger players' production. There's also still no guarantee Morin will receive any playoff ice time.
"I'm just taking it day by day," Morin said. "Every time I'm in the lineup, just trying to make the most of it. I was in the lineup again [Sunday,] so I was excited about it and tried to make the most of it."