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

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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.