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NHL is ‘never going to be a soft, skilled league,’ says McGrattan

Sep 24, 2013, 12:38 PM EDT

Brian McGrattan Getty Images

Brian McGrattan liked what he saw Sunday night in Toronto. For the Calgary Flames’ enforcer, the line brawl between the Leafs and Sabres was proof that players of his ilk would always be needed in the NHL.

“Everybody thought the skill game was going to take over two or three years ago, but the game found itself again,” McGrattan said, per the Calgary Sun.

“The league is never going to be a soft, skilled league like so many experts thought. It’s never going to happen. There’s always going to be big, tough, strong guys who are going to play to hurt you, which is why every team has to have one and every team is going back to the old ways.”

McGrattan need only look up the road to the Flames’ Alberta rivals for more support for his theory. On Monday, Edmonton picked up Steve MacIntyre off waivers in a move that general manager Craig MacTavish admitted was directly linked to a preseason game against the Canucks in which Vancouver’s Dale Weise took a run at one of the Oilers’ young stars, Taylor Hall. That same contest also saw Zack Kassian break Sam Gagner’s jaw with his stick.

While both Weise and Kassian were disciplined by the NHL, the Oilers are clearly hoping MacIntyre will offer his own brand of deterrence. And if not that, at least retribution.

  1. ibieiniid - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    ..::Bracing for comment wars::..

  2. travishenryskid - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Get back to me in 10 years after a few lawsuits. Recognize the trend. This type of player will not exist much longer.

    • ibieiniid - Sep 24, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      I wanted to argue with you on that one, but we just saw it happen to the NFL (not fighting based, but we now know the plaintiffs in these things probably have a case they can win). I gotta agree, a few more former players with serious head injuries winning several mil from the league and I doubt Bettman would hesitate to add some stupid safety rules like the NFL did. When’s he hesitated with rule changes before?

    • hockeyflow33 - Sep 24, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      The NFL lawsuit was because the team doctors knowingly gave incorrect information to players due to their employment by the team which created a conflict of interest.

      Your point would make sense if MMA had not become one of the fastest growing/most popular sports over the last decade.

  3. hockeydon10 - Sep 24, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Always? I doubt it. Many years down the road the league will instead end up with guys that can put up double digit goals that can also fight just as good.

    The times of a guy that gets 4 points for the entire season will come to an end. Those guys will be replaced with someone who gets 20+ points and is just as good a fighter as the current enforcers.

  4. davebabychreturns - Sep 24, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Headline News: Brian McGrattan thinks players like Brian McGrattan still serve a valuable purpose

  5. 19to77 - Sep 24, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I think McGrattan’s forgetting he plays on the only NHL team that could be demoted to the AHL and still struggle with quality of competition. Guy might be a roster player in Calgary, but really, couldn’t anyone at this point?

    • nj666 - Sep 24, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      It is a shame on what happened to that team. Their fans deserve better.

  6. lostpuppysyndrome - Sep 24, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Figure out a fights per point ratio. If you fight more than you score, you’re fined or suspended for half a season or something. I like guys like Milan Lucic and Evander Kane; I do not like guys like John Scott or George Parros (as beautiful as his mustache may be).

    • davebabychreturns - Sep 24, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      James Mirtle did something similar last night on the Globe & Mail, although it kind of means you can only look at forwards in these kinds of comparisons.

      One of the league’s most useless goons, John Scott, is actually a defenseman (except when he lines up on the faceoff so he can pick a fight with Phil Kessel).

      • ibieiniid - Sep 24, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        When you can’t play any position, you can play any position.

        his 5 career NHL points in 180 games speaks for itself.

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Sep 24, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        Maybe they need to do like minimum TOI per game if they’re gonna fight. If you got into a fight but played less than 5 minutes in that game, you AND your coach get fined. The guy’s not gonna goon it up unless coach sends him out there. Folks often forget that part. It’s no skin off the team’s back if their resident enforcer gets suspended for a few games since they don’t dress those guys a lot of the time. If coach is willing to shell out $5-10k to take matters into his own hands, then so be it. It’ll give them something to think about anyway.

    • leninthebuff - Sep 24, 2013 at 7:28 PM

      You like a guy like Lucic until he punckes out a player on your team and your team has no answer for it,
      My comment is nothing against Lucic as he is a good hard nosed player but people like you don’t understand the enforcer has been part of hockey since the original six. They serve their purpose.

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        Sure, but the best enforcers have always found a way to contribute elsewhere. Tiger Williams, Bob Probert, and Terry O’Reilly could all score as well as goon it up. Yes, there will always be your John Scott dingdongs out there but like Bieksa said, just skate around them.

        What you (and everyone else so far) have gotten wrong is that you somehow think I’m against enforcers. That is false, untrue, fallacious, incorrect, and erroneous. Folks’ ability to read here sometimes borders on “Miley Cyrus grew up in Detroit” level. Guys like John Scott hardly serve a purpose other than to fight guys like John Scott. When he’s on the ice, you know he has one purpose and only one purpose. That, to me, is a complete and utter waste of time and is against the spirit of the game. Fights happen and I’m all for emotionally charged tangles, but if you literally send a guy out for the sole purpose of fighting, that’s ridiculous and unneeded. And no, not every team needs guys like that. Just look at Detroit or Chicago.

  7. dadawg77 - Sep 24, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Well, you need guys who can be gritty but with skill. John Scott did nothing to help the Blackhawks win the cup but Bickell did. Is there a team who would rather have all of the players mention vs having a player like Patrick Kane?

  8. pitpenguinsrulez - Sep 24, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Fighting will never go away in hockey. Enforcers will always exist just that they’ll evolve into 15-20 point guys who can still enforce and brawl if needed.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Sep 24, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      There’s nothing wrong with that if they contribute in other ways besides fisticuffs. Even Konopka can take faceoffs and play more than 5 minutes a game.

    • hockeydon10 - Sep 24, 2013 at 8:15 PM

      Exactly what I said.

      If we look back this is how it was years ago as well. Hell, the greatest NHL pugilist of all time — RIP Probert — once got 29 goals in a season. He averaged 24 points per season over his entire career. McSorley averaged nearly that much as well.

  9. kingsforever - Sep 25, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    He’s that’s hockey. If you don’t like real hitting and fights then watch football

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