July 14 2011 12:19PM
Steve MacIntyre inked a two-way deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this week and yesterday I chatted with the former Oiler about riding shotgun for Sidney Crosby, working on his game so he'll get more icetime and opening the season against his former teammates.
MacIntyre will make $600,000 in the show and $105,000 if he plays in the AHL, but he is planning on protecting Crosby all season long. He gave a very honest assessment of his game and he seemed to understand why he didn't get to play very much in Edmonton last year.
"I have to work on my hockey sense. I got caught second guessing myself often. Sometimes I was too hesitant and not going with my gut instinct. I was thinking about things too much. I need to calm down in the games. Everyone can do it in practice, even I could do it in practice, but when it came to the games I was kinda like a deer in the headlights.
"Coach put me in situations where he thought I could succeed, but it was a 50/50 for him, 'Can Mac get it out, is he going to get it deep,' and I think that was my biggest downfall. Those instances I need to simplify things and just go out there and play hockey instead of going through and thinking about everything... I need to go out there and just be automatic."
I always found MacIntyre's honesty refreshing when we chatted in the dressing room. Whether we talked about hockey, hunting or an upcoming fight he never fed you a line of BS. While we chatted on my show yesterday he admitted that on the ice his honesty might have hurt him.
"Another of my downfalls was I might have been too honest on the ice. I have that other side of me (snap factor), but I didn't show it often enough. The NHL is a lot different than the minors. Down there the guys want it (fights) more. They are hungry and they want to engage. Up here guys are picking their spots, trying to figure out if this will help their team, if it will put them down a man or just how the game is going. There are a lot more facets to it than just going out there and dropping your gloves. It is something I have to learn. I have to engage people and more or less get under their saddle pads and get them off their game."
It sounds like he plans on being more aggressive with Pittsburgh.
"Last year I started out pretty good. Obviously that first night was huge, it was like scoring a hat trick for a tough guy, but then I kind of got caught up in things a little bit during the middle part of the season. In the final ten games I decided that I was going to go out with a bang and do things a bit different. Be more aggressive and hope that I could secure a job for next year. I plan on playing that way from the start this season."
I've always felt being a tough guy is the hardest job in pro sports, and as the guys continually get bigger I think it is only getting harder. There is loads of pressure every time a guy drops the gloves, because none of them want to get beat up in front of millions of people watching live or on TV.
I think that job is even more difficult when you are on a 30th place team that can't kill penalties.
Teams and fans want their tough guys to be aggressive, but it is hard to be aggressive when you are worrying about taking a penalty while doing it. If a tough guy knows that his team is good enough to kill off the odd aggressive penalty he can run around a bit more. MacIntyre never had that option in Edmonton, but he'll have more leeway in Pittsburgh because the Pens are a better team.
I asked Big Mac if that was the case at times last year.
"I don't want to make up any excuses for why I wasn't more aggressive. That is my job as a professional. I need to learn how I can be a factor in the games. At times I got caught second guessing myself, and with the type of team they are building in Edmonton it a little tougher, but that is part of the growth process for me. Part of being an NHL tough guy is, like the song says, you gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em," laughed MacIntyre.
I didn't expect MacIntyre to blame the Oilers PK woes for his lack of aggressive play, but it is a factor. When you are as big and as tough as MacIntyre, the refs won't do you many favours if you land a big hit or get in a scrum.
The Jordan Eberle TSN play of the year and the MacIntyre KO of Ivanans had Oiler fans dreaming of a Stanley Cup on opening night last year, and MacIntyre plans on being a part of this year's home opener as well. The only difference is he will be a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"There is a big circle around that day on my calender. I had a chance to talk to Dan Bylsma and I told him that there was this one particular game that if I could at all be a part of, I sure would love to be a part of because there was a couple people who took my job and I don't take too kindly to that. So I guess we'll have to see."
MacIntyre ended that statement with a mischievious chuckle, and if he is in the lineup Darcy Hordichuk might have an early season dance partner.
Before saying goodbye Big Mac took a crack at his former teammate and hunting partner, and he had a message for Oiler fans.
"If I could get close enough to Ryan (Jones) in warm-up and chop off a chunk of his hair that would be fun... I'm so very thankful to the Oilers and all the fans. I might be playing on different teams, but I'll be a fan of the Oilers until the day I die."
It is hard not to cheer for a guy like MacIntyre. I wish him all the best.
Mark Spector has been a regular on my show for two years now. He is a fun guy, who isn't afraid to speak his mind on any topic. Half the time he'll does his "hit" on my show from his deck. He epitomizes the guy who likes to sit on his deck and have a beer.
We've come up with a fun charitable angle for Spec's deck.
On Friday August 12th, we will be doing my show from Spec's deck, and we'll have five lucky winners join us, along with three of their friends for a hell of a party.
The contest works like this. You donate $100 to help end MS and you get in the draw. We will have FIVE winners and we cap it at 100 entries. You can enter as many times as you wish. $100 gets you one entry, $200 gets you two and so one.
The winner gets to bring three friends with them... Here is what you get.
Blue Sky Limo will pick you up, (Each group of four has one pick up spot) and they take you to Spec's deck.
The Ranch Golf and County Club will be catering the event. BBQ steak, chicken, potatoes, veggies, etc...
Big Rock will supply beer all night long and in the Limo.
Andrew Peller will supply the wine, because us sports guys are a dignified group.
Bacardi will supply a variety of hard liquor.
Co-Op Taxi will ensure everyone gets home safe and sound. We don't allow drinking and driving.
The party will start around 4 p.m. and last for as long as we like. Robin Brownlee, Ryan Rishaug, Meg Morrison and their spouses will also be there. I've also secured two SPECIAL GUESTS. Two NHL players will spend the evening sharing stories and probably listening to "how you were this close to making the show."
There will also be a musical guest who will be playing a few sets on the deck/backyard.
This will be a great evening of fun, laughs and good times.
To enter click here. Thanks for helping us end MS.