Any other sport, I don’t know if they’d be buddies about that and he’s one of the guys I’ve talked to the most since I’ve been here. Those are the kinds of things that stay on the ice, which is nice. - Brandon Bollig
CALGARY, AB -- It’s not strange at all, Brandon Bollig admitted, that the first person to welcome him to his new team was the most recent member of the Calgary Flames to punch him repeatedly in the face.
That’s just the kind of guy Brian McGrattan is.
“Especially a guy like that,” reiterated Bollig, who was acquired by the Flames via a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on draft day and welcomed shortly thereafter by a tweet from McGrattan. “Any other sport, I don’t know if they’d be buddies about that and he’s one of the guys I’ve talked to the most since I’ve been here. Those are the kinds of things that stay on the ice, which is nice.”
The tilt between the two, for the record, came on Nov. 27. While the Chicago Blackhawks earned a 3-2 win, McGrattan one-upped Bollig.
The same fate fell on Deryk Engelland on Jan. 11 -- another round scored to McGrattan.
“The fight didn’t go as planned for me but I wasn’t really going into the fight thinking I was going to beat him,” Engelland said. “I like to try to fight everyone and see how I do. I think he’s probably the toughest fight in the league.”
But now, McGrattan is ready to leave it all in the past and welcome the duo with open arms.
“We have to go out and do our jobs and sometimes we’re on different teams,” he said. “For some reason I end up playing with a lot of guys I’ve fought in the last couple years. With Deryk and Bollig, they’re two real big additions for our team on the ice and in the room.”
McGrattan doesn’t mind having the extra security around.
While he was left solo for much of the season, the additions of Bollig and Engelland give the Flames an extra set of deterrents when it comes to protecting teammates, both present and future.
“It’s great for young guys to be around guys where they’re going to be okay and not have to worry about going out and playing because they know there’s going to be a handful of guys who have their back,” McGrattan said. “They can do whatever they want, play how they want and play skilled and not have to worry about anything with us out there.”
The additions of the pair bring more than just four fists.
Bollig has a Stanley Cup title on his resume from his time with Chicago while Engelland has spent parts of seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
Their experience -- and winning ways -- will be key for the Flames.
“Bollig’s won a Stanley Cup and Engelland has been in a Pittsburgh organization, a top organization the last handful of years,” McGrattan said. “They bring winning experience here. It’s going to be good for our young guys to be around guys like that.”
Bollig is hoping to bring just that to the Flames room.
“I was lucky enough to win a championship there in Chicago and that’s something I can bring if guys want to feed off the experiences that I had,” he said. “We came close again to doing it again last year. If guys want to feed off the experiences that we had there in Chicago and the success we had, I’m more than willing to share that kind of stuff.”
He won’t force his experience on others, however.
Instead, Bollig will take more of a wait-and-see approach as he acquaints himself better with his new club.
“I think you definitely have to feel out, especially with the coaches, what their likes and dislikes are,” he said. “But also you really have to be yourself, you have to be your own player and I think there is a fine line of being yourself but also remaining a little conservative at the start before you really settle in.
“I think almost being in a leadership type role without getting in the way of the guys that do wear the letters and the veterans that have been here a while. It’ll be nice to find that niche and kind of roll with it.”
Engelland, signed to a three-year contract on July 1, is taking a similar approach.
“The first few days, it’s kind of just taking everything in and see which guys do what,” he said. “As camp progresses, you try to jump in as a leader and speak up a bit. A lot of it is the way you prepare and work on the ice and in the gym. You can lead that way and not even say anything.
“I learned from some good guys in Pittsburgh the way to be a pro, I guess. I’m just trying to come in here, I want to do the same with the young guys.”
Neither will be shy if the opposition tries to take liberties with a younger teammate on the ice.
But they may have to beat McGrattan to the punch.
“I think we might have to have a rock-paper-scissors tournament,” McGrattan started, “to see who gets the guy.”