Short of having the soundtrack from Rocky playing in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room, there isn’t anything missing from the feel-good story that is Steve MacIntyre’s ascent to the NHL.

After seven seasons and 418 games slugging it out in the minors, it looks like the 28-year-old tough guy from Brock, SK will play his first NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks Wednesday.

It’s a long overdue payoff for MacIntyre, who not only excels in one of the most dangerous jobs in sports, but who has accepted the risks that come with it so that he can provide for his family.

With a wife and three young children to feed, a two-way contract worth $525,000 will pay MacIntyre more for spending the next two weeks on the Oilers roster than he’s pocketed in some entire seasons punching for pay in the low minors.

He deserves every penny.

Working man

“Absolutely,” said MacIntyre when I asked him if he’s contemplated what it’ll be like to change tax brackets. “That’s the way I make my living right now.

“There’s not too many jobs where you can do what I do and make good money like I do. I think of it in those terms—I’m putting food on the table for my kids.”

Anybody with a computer and YouTube bookmarked knows the hulking six-foot-six, 265-pound MacIntyre, who was picked up on waivers from Florida, isn’t scared to get his hands dirty.

But we’re not just talking about snot, blood and saliva from the likes of Jim Vandermeer of the Calgary Flames or the meatheads MacIntyre tenderized along the way in his journey to The Show.

Having played for as little as $400 a week with teams like the Bay County Blizzard of the CEHL and Muskegon Fury of the UHL since his final WHL season with Prince Albert and Red Deer, MacIntyre isn’t about to turn up his bent nose at being near the bottom of the NHL pay scale.

Get a real job

He’s spent off-seasons working on the family farm, in a feed lot and in various other back-busting pursuits to make ends meet. There isn’t a spoiled bone in MacIntyre’s massive body.

“I’ve been able to scrimp and scrounge and my wife’s got a good job,” he said. “I had to pick up odd jobs in the minors and I helped my dad on the farm. It’s tough, but…”

MacIntyre’s best contract in the AHL called for him to make $65,000 a season. That’s decent dough for a working stiff, but not a big stack for putting life and limb on the line when the national anthem ends. Most seasons, he made far less than half of that.

If MacIntyre sticks on the Oilers roster all year, he’ll earn eight times more than he has in any previous season. With baby needing new shoes—MacIntyre and his wife Briana have a four-month-old—it’s about time all that pain started to pay off.

“It’s a great story,” said coach Craig MacTavish, who wouldn’t say today if MacIntyre will definitely dress against the Ducks. “He’s kind of endeared himself to everybody, including our players.

“You can’t help but admire a guy like that who is so passionate. The other thing is his love of the Oilers. It’s just incredible. It’s a great story and, hopefully, one he can live up to and play a bit.”

Hometown Hammer

What’s not to like about MacIntyre? As we’ve found out in recent weeks, he grew up cheering for the Oilers. His favourite player was ruffian Marty McSorley. When MacIntyre makes his long awaited debut, he’ll be wearing No. 33.

What makes me pull for MacIntyre is that he’s loved the game more than the game has loved him, at least to this point. That’s why he’s fought the good fight to beat the odds and keep the dream alive.

Even if MacIntyre doesn’t widen Chris Pronger’s gap-toothed grin by an incisor or two or apply a metacarpal moustache massage to George Parros Wednesday, it’ll be a game he never forgets.

“To be toiling in the minors for this long and to have the Oilers give me a chance to play an NHL game, it feels like a big accomplishment,” said MacIntyre. “We’ll see what happens.”

—Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.

  • milli

    Yep, I hope he sticks!!! It'd be nice to see a guy who really had to earn it. Plus, I want to have a monster on the bench for those nights when say regher or the boogyman decide to take some librities!!!!

  • Oilersninja

    If he can just keep focusing on improving his skating he will be here for keeps. lets face it the guy is a masher!!!!!!!

    "its stoner bashing time"

    Go Bruce Banner

  • Wanye Gretz

    Great story Robin.

    This makes me like the guy even more. And I already liked him because he made beating up Vandermeer look like beating up a junior high kid.

    And if there is anything I like to see, it's a 14 year old getting his come uppance.

  • Dennis

    This is the kind of story that Robin can knock out of the park.

    It's nice to hear that SMac's such a nice fellow and it makes you feel good to root for him.

  • doritogrande

    "“Absolutely,” said MacIntyre when I asked him if he’s contemplated what it’ll be like to change tax brackets. “That’s the way I make my living right now."

    Say what you will about MacIntyre, I can still make fun of his grammar! He certainly won't be mistaken for a Mensa candidate.

    Brownlee, you trying to win a local award with this sappy, feel-good story?

  • If we can get a fighting, faceoff winning centerman, we can have the Oilers' version of the broad street bullies on the 4th line! Acquire local product Nick Tarnasky, perhaps?

    MacIntyre – Tarnasky – Stortini

    Anyways… so what do you guys think: Roloson or DesLauriers for the first game played by a backup goaltender?

  • Tombo

    He may very well become the fastest fan favorite in Oilers history if we see him pound Pronger's face into mush tonight! Regardless of what happens I'll be rooting for the guy.

  • BigCap

    Hey doritogrande:

    Nice message…there's always one douche in every crowd and congrats you win!!!

    Why dont you personally let Big Mac know your thoughts and insights towards his Intelligence…better yet DONT, be the "Cool Guy" and talk tough over the internet…

    GO OIL GO!!!

  • RobinB

    Doritogrande: Why be such a tool?

    MacIntyre is as decent a guy as you'll ever meet and he's paid his dues 10 times over to get this chance.

    What, possibly, could make you feel the need to jump in like a smart-ass and say what you did? What? Please enlighten me.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    It is a great story and I hope it works out for him, If he can keep from being a liability on Defense he will stick especially if he is coachable and willing to work hard. The biggest laugh for me is the goal in the shootout contest who knows he might even get the call in a long one before Sheldon Souray if he scored and we won that would be the laugh of the year. Against Anaheim or Calgary would be priceless.

  • Westy

    I love the story and I am rooting for the guy, to be sure, but I can't help but feel sorry for Brodziak. In my opinion, this guy deserves to be on the 4th line as much as MacIntyre deserves to be on the 1st line. Instead of trying to teach Pisani to be a center, move Brodziak up between Penner and Pisani and teach Moreau to play center on the 4th line (and that would be on tough 4th line). You could even sub Pouliot in and move Moreau back to the wing when MacIntyre wasn't in the lineup.

    Just a thought…

  • Charlotte#33fan

    It's great to see him make it. When he was in Charlotte (ECHL Checkers), no one took libeties with our little guys. Steve is great fighter and a good man. Kick butt, Mac. Every Checker fan is rooting for you.

  • 1011011

    The fact Robin was as nice to Dorito as he was tells me he is actually at odds with why you would chirp MacIntyre.

    I have to admit I am in the same boat. WTF dude?

  • Jax&Jess

    I Smac proves that he can hang with the big boys in the show (which i hope he can) and not be to much of a defensive liability do we still Zack around?

    Just wondering!

  • Kevin

    What sets McIntyre apart is that "don't mess with me or I'll @#$! rip your head off" look. We haven't had a guy like that since Dave Brown. Intimidation is everything in today's NHL.

  • Reading stuff like this brings a smile to anyone's face who loves the Oilers. MacIntyre deserves all the publicity he's getting right now. He's coming over to a team in desperate need for someone of his abilities. That ability is rearranging other guys faces who take too much liberties with our skill guys. The way he got here always warms people up to the guy and I appreciate it. The last true enforcer we had was Big Georges who wanted to become a goal scorer more then anything else is baffling. So for us to have SmackIntyre in our lineup and hearing how he got there makes you appreciate the guy even more. His I'm not here to score goals attitude is about the most honest thing I've heard a guy say in a long time. And here's to Georges Laraque trying to score forty goals in Montreal. Thing is it will be over the next eight years.

  • RobinB

    J&J: Good question.
    It'll take a lot of games in which MacIntyre proves he can hold his own with the gloves on before the Oilers even entertain the possibility that Stortini is a spare part.

    Stortini is able to play in far more situations than MacIntrye. He's a better player. We know exactly what MacIntyre is here for and that scope is much narrower.

    I don't see the need to decide between one or the other. At least not yet.

  • Jax&Jess

    I dont either Robin, right away but if this "NEED" for a true face-off winning center stays around and Smac does prove he can handle the role i think Zack packaged with something may get us what we "NEED". I also think with Strudwick around we still have a guy in the middle wieght class if you need to sit Smac in the press box when you play teams like Detroit who dont really have that one big tough guy.

  • RobinB

    Swany: Don't short change Parros. He won't be overpowered by MacIntyre but he might be overwhelmed by his hand speed and ability to throw heavy punches with both hands.

    Parros prefers situations where he's at arm's length because he's six-foot-five. He prefers a "spin" much the way Boogaard does because that also favours reach. Problem is, he doesn't have much of a reach advantage on Mac.

    If Mac forces Parros to trade straight up in a little tighter than he prefers, he'll wreck him. Mac's chin is damn near bullet-proof, and if it becomes a punch-in-the-face contest, Mac's ability to land with both hands and go up top and underneath — think of the Vandermeer uppercut — will be the difference.

  • swany

    Robin I'm not short changing Parros, but I don't think he can take that kind of punch, also on the fights i've seen of Mac's most of them are at arms length and he just switches hands and throws bombs, it's fantastic, I can't wait to turn him loose on Calgary (one D-man for sure)

  • Stortini is able to play in far more situations than MacIntrye. He’s a better player. We know exactly what MacIntyre is here for and that scope is much narrower.

    Sure but there are tons of guys out there who are better hockey players than Stortini. If the Oilers are going to carry a guy who can really fight in the form of MacIntyre, why not replace Stortini with a guy who can actually play hockey, not play hockey well enough for a guy who fights?

    Also, MacIntyre's response to the question about changing tax brackets is beyond incomprehensible. It doesn't make him a bad guy, it's just a bit jarring to read. He makes his living now contemplating what it will be like changing tax brackets?

  • RobinB

    Tyler. Get serious. It's not "beyond incomprehensible."

    When I say to MacIntyre "You've got a tough gig, but at least you're going to be paid way better for it at the NHL level. Have you thought about that?" and he answers "Absolutely," it seems pretty straight forward to me.

    Maybe I framed his response poorly in the way I attributed it. But beyond incomprehensible? You're nit-picking.