It was nice to get a taste of it cause I can take that into my summer training and all that stuff too. It gives me something to work for cause I got a taste of it in the last 20 games or so. - Brian McGrattan
CALGARY, AB -- It had all the makings of a bad 1980’s sitcom -- the grizzled enforcer and the fresh-faced rookie.
And while the unlikeliest of duos, the combination of veteran pugilist Brian McGrattan and freshman first round pick Sean Monahan turned out to be one worthy of primetime.
“If you were to tell me I would be 32-years-old and hanging out with a 19-year-old… but he’s awesome, he puts a smile on my face every day,” McGrattan said. “He is one of my close friends on the team, it’s going to be fun playing with him again next year.”
The two play perfect foils for one another.
On one side of the Calgary Flames dressing room, you have the brash, outspoken, tattooed fist thrower. Directly opposite him is the quiet, reserved, clean-cut sniper.
It’s a unique combination, no doubt.
“Me and Grats are pretty good buddies,” Monahan said. “We joke around a lot and we have a lot of fun, and I think having that mentality sometimes, to get a laugh and stuff like that, it makes it easier for me and the rest of the team.”
McGrattan’s veteran presence around Monahan undoubtedly helped the teenager adjust to all aspects of National Hockey League life. It’s just one of the roles the ever-evolving McGrattan embraced in what can only be described as a career-year for the 6-foot-4, 235-pound right winger.
He set new career-highs in almost every conceivable statistic, including games played (76), goals (4), assists (4) and points (8). His 100 minutes in penalties matched the second-highest output, too.
“I call myself a late bloomer,” McGrattan said. “I guess it took 13 years. No, it was (a career year), yeah. A lot of hard work in the summers and everything, skill stuff, training and cardio. It just takes the right situation and the right chance and that’s why you can never give up, cause you never know when your opportunity is going to come knocking, you got to be ready.”
He got that opportunity following the Olympic break.
With injuries riddling the Flames roster, McGrattan’s workload increased. The native of Hamilton, ON reached double-digits in minutes played in 12 of 22 games from March onward, including five of the final six contests. He saw north of nine minutes just twice in the 54 games prior to the schedule stoppage.
Not surprisingly, three of McGrattan’s four goals and five of his eight points came post-Olympics in his expanded role. Only one of his 11 scraps on the season came during the span. It was the only penalty he was assessed in his final 22 skates, too.
“It was nice to get a taste of it cause I can take that into my summer training and all that stuff too,” he said. “It gives me something to work for cause I got a taste of it in the last 20 games or so.
“It’s what every guy wants, every guy wants to play a lot of minutes and I’m going to come in here and prove that I can be one of those guys.”