|Calgary Flames right wing Brian McGrattan (10) and Dallas Stars center Steve Ott (29) exchange words in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) |
For that fact alone, it seems certain the B's newest heavyweight fighter is sure to be embraced by the fans in the Hub of Hockey.
And while the 6'4", 235-pound native of Hamilton, Ontario doesn't exactly cut the figure of a teddy bear, the newest Boston Bruin certainly makes his new teammates feel that much more secure.
"Well I think we all know what he is capable of doing as far as his role is concerned," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien after practice on Wednesday. "He's a tough player that's pretty well respected around the league."
He should be "well respected" around the NHL.
McGrattan, 29, is a five season National Hockey League veteran and holds the American Hockey League record for 551 penalty minutes in 71 games for the Binghamton Senators (to the tune of 53 minors, 41 majors, 18 misconducts and 6 game misconducts). McGrattan has done NHL time with Calgary, Phoenix and Ottawa and has played in 182 games (with 395 penalty minutes and a 3-11-14 line).
But beyond his ever-present pugilism, Julien said that McGrattan's usefulness to the Bruins comes from his ability to actually play the game, as well his persistent participation in "The Sweet Science."
"We always felt like those kind of guys need to be able to play hockey as well," explained Julien. "We kept an eye on him and watched how he conducted himself on the ice and played the game.
"He seems very willing to continue to learn and at the same time I think he's played a pretty decent game. So it just makes us bigger and stronger and obviously tougher team."
For his part, McGrattan just sounded grateful to have another shot in the show.
"Well, you know, any NHL contract is always a positive," said McGrattan, who last played for Calgary. "It took a lot of hard work and a lot of positive thinking during the summer...[when] things didn’t go too well.
"I [waited] around all summer. I didn’t have anything and got a call the week of camp to come here.
"I had a goal this summer of making whatever team I went to. And I’m glad it was here and I’m glad they gave me the opportunity to start off with the team to start the year and my goal will be to stay here all year," he said.
One trait that might help McGrattan reach his goal is his presence in the locker room. Anyone who has spent any time with the B's during this preseason can see that Brian's new teammates simply enjoy having "Grats" around.
"I think his teammates really like him alot," concurred Julien. "He's got a real nice personality and he likes to keep things loose, but he knows when...it's time to put your game face on.
"And you know, players like that have a tough enough role to play that whenever they can add that element to their job description in the dressing room it's great.
"It just shows with those guys that what you see on the ice and what you see away from the ice -- it's called dual personalities. Most of those guys that I've known in the pass are really pretty good guys," he said.
Coach Julien is not kidding about the dual nature of hockey's heavyweights. Even beyond his menacing stature, a quick look at hockeyfights.com gives you a quite different read on McGrattan than his pleasant, almost laid back attitude and demeanor normally delivers.
"I’ve never had a problem fitting in with the guys," said Brian. "Part of my role, part of who I am on the team is to be that guy in the room.
"I’m the type of player that’s not going to play every night. I know that. I accept that. But you have to be a good guy in the room. No body wants a guy in the room that’s going to pout or mope around because he’s not playing.
"No. I love being part of the team. I love being part of the guys and, you know, it’s been a lot of fun fitting in with these guys and I really got to know everybody over the course of the Europe trip. It was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with these guys," he said.
And you know what else Brian McGrattan is looking forward to? The big brawler is simply looking forward to stepping onto the TD Garden ice while wearing a Black & Gold jersey -- a jersey that the enforcer now seemed destined to wear.
"Yeah I’m just looking forward to getting into my first game and, you know, show some of the fans what I can do," McGrattan said.