I just wanted to come out and play real physical and put myself in position to have some chances to make some big hits to start the game and start the momentum to change physically. - Brian McGrattan
CALGARY, AB -- Brian McGrattan made a sellout crowd at Scotiabank Saddledome stand at attention.
So he felt the need to salute them.
After dispatching of Vancouver Canucks pugilist Tom Sestito in a spirited bout of fisticuffs on Sunday, the Calgary Flames' newest acquisition raised his hand to his forehead and offered the gesture of respect to the roaring, rambunctious mass.
“It was kind of an adrenaline thing,” McGrattan said. "I don’t know if I’ve ever done that one.
“It was really loud. That was kind of the point of it.”
Unfortunately for McGrattan, that gesture of respect to the Flames faithful earned him an extra 10 minutes in the penalty box. But the move – similar to that of Jaromir Jagr’s goal salute – didn’t put McGrattan in coach Bob Hartley’s doghouse.
Far from it, in fact.
“No, no, no. I loved the salute,” Hartley said. “It was like his idol Jagr. Jagr won’t be able to do it anymore.”
Hartley’s hoping McGrattan, acquired from the Nashville Predators on Thursday in exchange for minor-league defenseman Joe Piskula, continues to bring all the elements he did in the first game of his return to Calgary – a 4-2 win at the expense of Vancouver.
A game-time decision by Hartley, McGrattan delivered hits, fists and on the expectations of the Flames’ bench boss.
“He makes us feel good,” Harltey said. “He makes us feel bigger and I’m sure that the other team sitting on their bench are not as comfortable. That’s for sure. He brings us size.”
In other words, McGratton’s first game in a Flames jersey since the 2009-10 season can be considered a success.
“I just wanted to come out and play real physical and put myself in position to have some chances to make some big hits to start the game and start the momentum to change physically,” McGrattan said.
In doing so, the six-foot-four, 235-pound enforcer properly re-introduced himself well to old and new teammates alike.
“He’s a great team guy,” Hartley said. “The players love him. He knows this city, loves the organization. I think he’s a pretty good fit for us.”
And a good fit for McGrattan, a veteran of 215 NHL games with stops in Ottawa, Phoenix and Nashville along with his initial stint with the Flames.
“I was obviously excited to be back in a place I love to play before and getting a fresh start on the second half of the season,” he said.
A fresh start north of the border, McGrattan added.
“It’s a great feeling, especially in Canada too,” he said. “It’s a lot different then playing in some other places I’ve played too. The emotion and the intensity is a lot higher than in a lot of places.”
It’s that intensity that got McGrattan jacked for his first fight since challenging Ryan Reaves on February 4th, 2012, one day shy of 13 months.
His efforts helped spark Calgary to victory - worthy of a salute in itself.