Life in the NHL is everything Senators rookie Brian McGrattan had expected, and then some.
"It's going amazing," said the Senators tough guy after the pre-game skate Tuesday morning. "Hockey and everything it brings, it's a whole different life in the NHL. You're treated first class everywhere you go. I have never been in a town where people all know who I am. I have to pinch myself. This is something I have dreamed of my whole life."
Keeping opposing enforcers in check, and offering protection to some of the most talented players in the league, makes the NHL job even more special. Skating with the first-place Senators everyday can only improve his skills, too. McGrattan, 24, knows he has to develop other aspects of his game, not just his talent when the gloves are dropped.
"Practice is fast every day. Guys like Heatley and Spezza, Redden and Chara, when you go one-on-one against guys like that, you're going to become a better player. To be on a first-place team is pretty special. I just have to keep working to improve."
On Nov. 19, McGrattan deflected a Brian Pothier point shot past New Jersey Devils superstar Martin Brodeur for his first NHL goal. McGrattan has a hard time describing how he felt after the goal.
"It was an awesome feeling, I can't really explain it. My parents were in town so it was good for them to see it. To score against an Olympic gold-medal-winning goalie, it was pretty cool."
The adjustment to the team itself has been easy says the Hamilton native. He thanks his teammates and coaches for their support.
"We have the best coaches in the league. They're easy to approach and they teach well. It's easy to understand them. The biggest thing is I've had coaches who don't tell you when you're not playing well. I have good communication here. I'm very comfortable with players and management. I played with six or seven of the guys in Binghamton. It was easier to come in knowing them than it would have been coming in fresh."
Redden still at least a week away
Senators defenceman Wade Redden told reporters on Tuesday after practice that he is still at least a week away from returning to NHL action.
The all-star defenceman did add, howeve,r that he hopes to skate in the "next couple of days" to test out his injured knee. The injury resulted after getting tied up awkwardly with forward Mike Fisher during a practice last week.
"The stiffness is going down, and it's starting to feel better. Next week I hope I get playing again. I can't put a day on it. It depends how treatment goes and how I am feeling."