Ducks fans certainly know Brandon McMillan -- the young winger currently playing for Anaheim's AHL affiliate in Norfolk -- but they're never known him this well.
Brandon's father Rick, who lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, recently sent in some childhood photos of his son to the PR guys in Norfolk because he thought they'd get a kick out of them. They forwarded them on to us, and we thought it would be fun to get both Brandon and his dad to reflect on them:
Brandon: I don’t really remember this one, but that’s probably something for Christmas or something where they wanted to get a nice little picture of me. My grandma has a picture of me from every grade, and she probably did my hair and put a little bowtie on me for that one. I definitely don’t have that outfit anymore, but maybe I should upgrade my wardrobe and see if I can get one.
Rick: I think he was three years old or so there. Usually his mom or grandma dressed him up like that and did something funny with his hair. You can see how he dresses now with Troy Bodie in this photo from the Admirals Christmas party. That's kind of a good then and now [laughs].
Brandon: I spent a lot of time with my grandma when I was little, and she used to do this little cowlick with my hair. Obviously I don’t look very pleased at the moment. That’s definitely not a hairstyle I’ll be trying to bring back.
Rick: I think that was his first haircut. He wasn’t one for sitting in the chair for any great length of time, but we managed to settle him in for a bit, and grandma asked them to whip something up on top there.
Brandon: That was a Meet the Canucks day, one of the highlights of my life when I was younger. I think I was 8 or 10 there and I lived in a little town called Tsawwassen, about 30 minutes from Vancouver. You got the opportunity to meet all the players. Todd Bertuzzi was my favorite player when I was growing up, so getting the chance to meet him was huge. And then obviously playing against him last year and the year before was a pretty cool experience as well.
Rick: Bertuzzi must have been in his early 20s there and Brandon would have been around 8. I was at the game last year in Detroit, sometime in November, when Brandon played with the Ducks against Bertuzzi. A co-worker and I went down to Windsor and took the bus over to see the game, and it blew me away to see Brandon playing against him.
Brandon: This one with Mark Messier was the same day. It was pretty cool meeting a legend like him, and I got to meet him later in life when his son tried out for the Kelowna Rockets, where I was playing at the time. He’s just a classy guy and one of the best hockey players to ever play.
Brandon: That was a plaque for Athlete of the Year for my school in Grade 7. I’m there with my mom, dad and sister. I played basketball and ran track back then, along with hockey. I don’t know where that Afro came from, but that was my style back in the day. I liked the long curly hair coming out of the back of the helmet, so I’m looking to bring that back maybe.
Rick: He liked to have a lot of hair when he was a kid, and that was pretty much a fro.
Brandon: That’s probably one of the first days of one of my first years playing hockey. That was outside our house and I was heading out to morning practice. Back then you had to get ready at home and ride to the rink in all your gear. Those are classic Canucks jerseys. Those were the Canucks jerseys back then, and they wore those when they made it to the Stanley Cup Final in ‘94.
Rick: Brandon would always be well-dressed before we even got out of the house. He’s got everything tied on there. I think he was five years old and we were taking him to a little tykes program down there in Delta.
Brandon: That’s my sister Melissa and me. We’re either camping or we’re at a fireworks show in Vancouver. That’s definitely a cute little picture of us. I got along with her when we were younger, but now she’s in her teenage years and gets a little bit on my nerves.
Rick: That’s down in English Bay. We used to go down there in the summer and take in the fireworks. You know how it is with brother-sister love. It takes awhile to get past who gets the most attention from mom and dad.
Brandon: This was in Vancouver at the old Coliseum where the Canucks used to play. My mom surprised me and took me to an event where they had all of the Hall of Fame pieces, including the Cup. I remember we actually got lost in downtown Vancouver trying to find the Coliseum, and my mom was a little bit nervous, but we got there eventually. It was a pretty cool experience.
Brandon: I’ve never seen this picture before, but the sweatshirt comes from my dad’s side of the family. They’re all from Cold Lake, Alberta, north of Edmonton. That must have been my dad’s old hockey gear because that helmet is made of foam and the gloves are pretty old. Those are definitely some antiques.
Rick: That’s my old equipment from when I played in Alberta. You can see it’s a pretty wicked helmet, and I wore that when I was a kid. The gloves are from when I was a teenager. Aren’t those cool? Original leather, but a little too big for Brandon at that time.
Brandon: I think I was 14 or 15, and it’s a little spring hockey team we put together, and we won the tournament. There are a few AHL players in there. Right to my right is Tyler Johnson, who played in Norfolk last year and is now at Syracuse. Martin Jones, the goalie on the left, plays in Manchester. Patrick Wiercioch is right above Martin Jones and he plays in Binghamton. Right to the right of him is Landon Ferraro, who plays in Grand Rapids. Probably more than half of those guys still play hockey and a few of them play pro. Ray Ferraro, who played in the NHL for a lot of years and is now a TSN announcer, is on the far right. He was a coach on that team. It was a pretty good team. The coaches were making fun of me because I hadn’t won anything before, so they let me hold the trophy.
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