There's an old adage, if you're ever sent to prison, find the biggest guy and punch him in the face. Well, it looks like Dylan McIlrath took that advice to heart as his first NHL fight was against one of the toughest heavyweights in league, Brian McGrattan…
And while McIlrath was far from the victor, he held his own and impressed his teammates enough to receive the Broadway Hat as well as this accolade from his coach (via New York Post)…
“I thought that was a very courageous thing to do. That’s a very big opponent there and a young man that was testing that opponent. … I’m not really sure a fight one way or the other has that [much] impact, but I do think it brings a little emotion to the game and it certainly didn’t hurt.”
…AV can try to down play the impact a fight like that has on the team all he wants, but when McIlrath receives the Broadway Hat over other deserving teammates you know it was appreciated.
…to the fight itself, sure, McGratton pretty much controlled the bout from start to finish, but for a 21-year old to hang in there against an experience fighter like that was impressive. McIlrath could have easily fought a patsy for his initial NHL fight, but to start at the top sends a message for opponents to be on guard. Trust me, enforcers and other teams around the league took notice last night and I can guarantee you that as long as McIlrath continues to be in the lineup, we'll see opponents taking less and less liberties with the Rangers skill players.
…AV obviously still doesn't completely trust the kid as the Rangers coach shielded McIlrath by dressing seven defensemen and only gave him five minutes of ice time. However, if the bruising defenseman continues to look more and more comfortable as he did in the second half of the game last night, he'll easily be getting double digit minutes before we know it.
…i also thought it was pretty neat for McGratton to give McIlrath, what looked like a little encouragement talk after the fight. There's definitely a small fraternity among NHL enforcers and it looked like McGrattan was welcoming the Undertaker to the club. Cool stuff.