– Kris Versteeg
has already christened his new rookie linemate with a nickname.
“Big red,” Versteeg informed while stretching out on the floor of the visiting team locker room at Joe Louis Arena after the morning skate.
He, of course, is referring to Brock McGinn, who sports flowing, red locks that spill out of his helmet.
McGinn, recalled on Wednesday evening from Charlotte, will make his NHL debut in Detroit tonight, skating on the left wing with Eric Staal and Versteeg, a prominent stage for his first regular-season action with the big club.
“Brock’s a real good player. He’s an honest player who plays in all three zones. He knows how to play and does a lot of little things right,” head coach Bill Peters said after the morning skate. “He’s going to get a good look tonight on a line with Staalsy and Steeger. I expect that to be a good line.”
“They’re definitely there for support,” McGinn said of his veteran linemates. “They help you out a lot, and going out there, they try to make things easy and keep it simple.”
Keeping it simple is an oft-repeated mantra, especially for someone preparing to play his first game in the NHL.
“I just want to come out, play the same way I have and not change up everything,” McGinn said. “Just go out there, have a great game and try to help the guys as best I can.”
McGinn began his second full professional season in Charlotte, where he scored two goals in the team’s first game, a 4-1 win in Iowa on Saturday. Last season, he posted 15 goals and 27 points in 73 games with the Checkers.
“I definitely have confidence after getting a couple goals in the first game. We played a good team game and had a good comeback in the second game, as well,” McGinn recapped on Thursday. “Coming in here playing good.”
“He’s a tenacious, gritty, two-way guy. He’s got good speed to him,” Peters said of his 6-foot, 185-pound winger, who hits like a player much larger in stature. “He’s real close to being a full-time guy, and we’ll see how this audition goes.”
Brock, the younger brother of Buffalo Sabres forward Jamie McGinn and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tye McGinn, grew up in Fergus, Ontairo, what he estimated to be four hours northeast of Detroit. His parents and grandparents, he said, will be making the trip to Joe Louis Arena to see his first NHL game.
“That should be fun having them in the stands and them getting to experience that,” McGinn said.
So, how did he sleep the night before his debut?
“It was good. A nice bed. There were a little nerves,” he admitted.
And those nerves will probably set it again as puck drop draws near.
“This is the first NHL game, so this is the type of thing you dream of growing up playing hockey,” McGinn said. “I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email