|“I just need to stay ready when I get the chance to be in the lineup,” McIver says. “I’ll be ready to go and I’ll take advantage of it." |
Nathan McIver had flown mostly under the radar since the Ducks plucked him off waivers from Vancouver last Oct. 4. The 23-year-old defenseman made his Anaheim debut Oct. 14 against the Kings, picking up an assist for his first career NHL point. Since then, he’s played a mostly quiet 11 games, and that lone assist is still all he has to show in the scoring column.
But McIver made his presence felt in a big way in front of the home crowd in last Monday night’s 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Fighting seven seconds into the game will do that for a guy.
Right off the draw, as the puck headed into the Ducks end, McIver dropped the gloves with Avs winger Cody McLeod, as the two traded punches and tore at each other’s jerseys for a good half-minute before they both ran out of steam.
“I just asked him to go right after the draw when the play came down to our end,” says the soft-spoken McIver, “and he came right at me.” Watch the fight on YouTube
McIver (pronounced Mc-EE-ver) said he wanted to get something going early for an Anaheim team that had seen its struggles at home, and he saw the opportunity when he was penciled in as a starter. “I saw that Colorado had started three of their tougher guys, so I wanted to make something happen. We wanted to start playing better at home, so I wanted to get the game off on the right foot.”
“I just asked him to go right after the draw when the play came down to our end, and he came right at me.” - Nathan McIver
It wasn’t exactly Ali-Frazier III, but McIver had a pugilistic history with McLeod. The two went at it last Feb. 9 while McIver was in Vancouver (one of two brawls McIver got into that night), and also in the AHL two years ago, when McIver was with the Manitoba Moose.
“I felt pretty good,” says McIver, who hadn’t been as fortunate in two other fights earlier this season. “I feel like I got the edge in this one.”
|“I’m asking Nathan McIver to be Nathan McIver,” Carlyle says. “He’s a strong, stay-at-home defenseman, who makes that good first pass and he’s strong defensively. He has that element of toughness and he’s quite capable and willing to show it.” |
While he hasn’t checked out this particular bout yet, McIver admits he’ll scout other teams’ heavyweights by visiting the popular hockeyfights.com website or on YouTube. “Before every game I’ll figure out who the fighters are on the other team and I’ll watch some of their fights,” McIver says. “Or I’ll go ask George [Parros] or Brad May about guys, since they’ve been around a long time.”
Of course, McIver is much more than a fighter for the Ducks, and he displayed his strong defensive instincts over the past two games when Ducks coach Randy Carlyle elected to scratch third-year defenseman Kent Huskins and insert McIver.
“I’m asking Nathan McIver to be Nathan McIver,” Carlyle says. “He’s a strong, stay-at-home defenseman, who makes that good first pass and he’s strong defensively. He has that element of toughness and he’s quite capable and willing to show it.”
McIver knows that his opportunities are limited, especially after Carlyle indicated after practice Wednesday that Huskins might be back in the lineup for the Friday afternoon matchup with visiting Chicago. But with veteran Francois Beauchemin
out for six months with a torn ACL, there are more chances for a young defensemen like McIver or recent call-up Brett Festerling.
“I just need to stay ready when I get the chance to be in the lineup,” McIver says. “I’ll be ready to go and I’ll take advantage of it. When you lose one of your top d-men for the season, you don’t want to see that. But I’ve been ready to go to step in when the team needed me.”
That’s been the case ever since McIver arrived in Anaheim, having previously spent his entire career in the Canucks organization after being drafted 254th overall in 2003. (He played 17 games without a point for Vancouver last season.) After making the move to Orange County, he was originally put up in a hotel across the street from Honda Center and he’s since moved down the street to a team-owned condo.
“It’s nice to get into a real place,” McIver says. “This is a great place to play. The weather’s nice and I’ve really enjoyed it here so far.”
|McIver's hard-hitting ways include this shot iinto the bench on the Kings' Wayne Simmonds. |
And he’s felt comfortable with his new teammates, even though he isn’t the most gregarious guy in the room. When it’s mentioned he’s not much of a talker, he shyly says, “I guess not. I’m kind of quiet, but I’ve gotten to know the guys here pretty well. We’ve spent a lot of time together away from the rink, and it’s a good group of guys.”
But it’s on the ice where McIver hopes to make the most impact, whether it’s with his fists or by keeping pucks out of Anaheim nets.
“I’m feeling better every day,” he says. “I came in here a couple months ago and it was my first time ever being traded or picked up by another team. It was a little different at first, I’m pleased with the way I’ve been playing since I got here. Every day I feel more comfortable.”