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Count McGrattan and Hamonic among those excited to see Lucic come to Calgary

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Over his tenure on Long Island, Travis Hamonic took a turn being the human tuning-fork on a few occasions.

"I've played against Looch for many, many years, when he was in Boston and then in Edmonton, and he is a force," said the Flames' rock-solid rearguard.

"A big guy that moves really well. Quicker than you might think. He's a guy you don't need to be told is on the ice. A guy who gets in on the forecheck and makes a point of finishing his checks.

"And when he does, it hurts.

"Believe me.

"I've been on the end of a couple."

The acquisition of Milan Lucic on Thursday has been met with enthusiasm by onetime foes/new teammates.

"This is someone to count on, 100%," assures Hamonic. "Someone we're thrilled to have. He'll be a presence on the ice but also in our locker-room and in the community.

"It speaks volumes that he wants to come. That's super-important. He wants to be here and we want him here. Knocks off both boxes, for sure."

Count the one-and-only Big Ern among Big Luc's biggest fans, too.

"We're really close," says Flames' fan-favourite Brian McGrattan, part of the organization's player development umbrella. "I consider him one of my great friends.

"Our families are close. Our kids are kind of in the same age group. This will be a great, fresh start for him. I think he'll have a major impact on a really good team.

"We talk every day. Those talks the last couple of days have been a little different than the last three years.

"This will be great for the city. He's a larger-than-life personality. He's going to be a tremendous fit in the dressing room. He's a big teddy-bear. The guys are going to absolutely love him.

"He's going to be able to just slide in and be Milan Lucic. We have an all-world leader in Gio. You've got Mikael Backlund, Travis Hamonic, older guys who've been around awhile so he doesn't feel he has to step in and be the entire culture.

"But he will be a big help to our leadership group."



McGrattan, of course, carved out a career and morphed into a beloved player hereabouts by the making everyone around him feel six inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. 

Calgary management believes Lucic can provide the same sort of dynamic with the current edition of the Flames.

"He's a passionate guy," emphasizes McGrattan. "He's a hungry guy. And I think he's going to be on the path this summer to prove a lot of doubters, a lot of haters, and a lot of people wrong for the last couple of years in Edmonton.

"He's got a new fire in his belly to come to a place where he is really wanted. I'm excited for him and for the team, just getting this type of person into this organization.

"I think it's going to be a major boost."

You can tell it already is.

"He's done pretty much everything during his career," reminds Hamonic. "A Stanley Cup winner. Been to another final. Went deep into the playoffs a lot.

"When you're as tough as he is and have done it as long as he has and plays as well as he does, it's a rarity in the game. His attributes, a lot of hockey players would like to have, right?

"I think it's a huge acquisition for our team and an important piece to add."

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