New Jersey Devils v Nashville Predators

McGrattan on enforcer’s role: “I don’t come foaming at the mouth to fight”

Josh Cooper of The Tennessean spoke with Preds forward Brian McGrattan about the recently released New York Times’ Derek Boogaard piece, which revealed Boogaard’s brain showed signs of degenerative brain disease CTE.

If anyone’s qualified to speak to the article, it’s McGrattan. He filled the same enforcer role Boogaard once did (McGrattan fought 39 times during the 2004-05 AHL season) and, like Boogaard, also spent time in the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.

He spoke with Cooper about the dangers of getting hurt while fighting, his mental approach and the future of the enforcer role.

“Getting hurt to me, I don’t think about it, because if I start to think about it, then it will happen. I come to the rink – I don’t come foaming at the mouth to fight at night. If I fight during a game, I’ll think about it for about 30 seconds before I do it.

“I’ve heard of guys saying they can’t sleep the night before, can’t eat the day of. If you can’t do it, it’s obviously not the job for you. I do it the guys on the team need it, the fans like it. It’s just what I do. If I had a problem doing it and I couldn’t function an everyday normal life then I wouldn’t do it.

“I think they should just let it go with the enforcing. I don’t know how long hockey has been going for, but it has been going on since the dawn of hockey. I can’t see it going anywhere. I think they should let it be.”

That last sentiment is shared by a number of McGrattan’s peers. A recent ESPN poll showed 20 of 20 NHLers said fighting shouldn’t be banned, a sentiment that’s been confirmed in previous player polls. Many NHLers understand and accept the inherent dangers in their jobs — all jobs, including enforcers — something Washington’s Brook Laich spoke bluntly about following the Jay Beagle-Arron Asham fight:

“This is what we love to do,” he said. “Guys love to play, they love to compete, they want to be on the ice. How do you take that away from someone? We accept that there’s going to be dangers when we play this game. We know that every time we get dressed.

“I don’t know, sometimes it just feels like we’re being babysat a little too much. We’re grown men and we should have a say in what we want to do.”

Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

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Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.


Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs


Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury

Report: Jets offered Byfuglien for Hamonic, Isles said no

Dustin Byfuglien

If Travis Hamonic could choose one team to be traded to, he’d probably choose Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Islanders defenseman wants to be closer to his family, and his family is from Manitoba. Hamonic already owns a condo in Winnipeg.

So far, though, the Jets and Islanders haven’t been able to work out a deal. The Jets have three right-shot defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers who could, theoretically, be swapped for Hamonic, also a right shot.

“I think the Islanders were offered Byfuglien and they said no,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 (audio), per Today’s Slapshot. “And I understand why, because Byfuglien’s got no term left.

“I think they’d love to have Trouba, but the Jets aren’t really there to do it. Myers, if it’s happened – I can’t say for sure it has or hasn’t – I’m not sure that’s the deal either team really wants to make, to be perfectly honest.”

Byfuglien is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s expected to cash in big-time on his next deal. The 30-year-old may not be the most disciplined player, but at his best, he’s an absolute force on the back end.

That the Isles reportedly said no to Byfuglien shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given his contract uncertainty. However, it does make one wonder about his future in Winnipeg. Remember that the salary cap is not expected to go up by much, and the Jets have another pending UFA in captain Andrew Ladd, plus a couple of key RFAs in Trouba and Mark Scheifele.

While it’s never easy to tell what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking, the big question with Byfuglien and the Jets may end up being when, not if, they part ways. Will it be after the season or before the Feb. 29 trade deadline?