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The first player to ever sign a contract with the Toledo Walleye perfectly fits the mold of a traditional fan favorite.
ECHL veteran Malcolm MacMillan, a center who's not afraid to drop the gloves, has agreed to terms with the new franchise. MacMillan, 27, racked up 715 penalty minutes in four seasons with four ECHL teams.
But MacMillan also tallied 35 points (10 goals and 25 assists) in his last full season in the league with the Reading Royals in 2006-07.
"I'm definitely blue-collar," MacMillan said. "I come with a little bit of toughness. But I think I'm an all-around good player. I bring a couple of different elements. I like to think I can do a little bit of everything."
MacMillan, a native of Thunder Bay, Ont., played in the Elite Ice Hockey League, which is based in England, last season.
The 5-11, 196-pound forward said Walleye coach Nick Vitucci called him immediately after MacMillan decided he wanted to play in North America this year.
"He's a scrappy, intense player," Vitucci said. "He battles and he's not afraid to drop the gloves. But I look for him to contribute offensively, too."
MacMillan said he considers it an honor to be the first player to sign with Toledo's new ECHL organization, which begins play Oct. 16.
"But I won't let that go to my head," MacMillan said. "It means something to the community, to the organization and to the fans, so it means a lot to me."
Vitucci, who also is the team's director of operations, said MacMillan is the perfect fit to have the honor.
"Whether he fights or scores, he'll leave it all out on the ice," Vitucci said. "He's a warrior-type player that our fans will love."
MacMillan said he's familiar with the intensity of Toledo hockey.
"I know they have great fans. They loved to hate me when I was with Reading," MacMillan said. "They had 2,000 people all in sync yelling at me, 'You suck!' It was the whole bloody crowd. That was pretty amazing. My dad was there. My family still laughs about it. Now that I'm going to Toledo, we laughed about it even more.
"Hopefully they'll just love me now and not hate me."
Vitucci, who had to prepare for MacMillan when he coached the Toledo Storm, said he hated to face him because of his "tenacious work ethic and physical play."
"I remember the fans hating him because of his reckless style. He was a thorn in our side," Vitucci said. "He caught my attention because of the energy and toughness he brought to every single shift."
MacMillan played for the ECHL's Florence (Pee Dee) Pride, Peoria Rivermen and Cincinnati Cyclones in 2003-04 before playing the following three seasons with Reading.
MacMillan has appeared in 223 ECHL games, scoring 33 goals to go along with 67 assists. He scored a career-high 12 goals with the Royals in 2005-06. MacMillan also has had short stints in the American Hockey League with Albany and Hershey.
"I like to set up plays and put up points," MacMillan said. "But I'm not afraid to mix it up and get my nose dirty."
He will attend the AHL camp in Grand Rapids, the Red Wings' Triple-A affiliate, next month.
MacMillan said he has seen pictures of the new Lucas County Arena on the Internet.
"It's always good to play in a new facility," MacMillan said. "It will be great to start in a whole new atmosphere."
MacMillan said the fit also was ideal because of the Walleye's strong affiliations with the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.
"It's centrally located and I want to be a part of a winning organization," he said. "Nick always puts together good teams in Toledo."
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