Grimaldi fought for his NHL life

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

After literally fighting for a job with the New York Islanders, defenceman Joe Grimaldi is on his way back to the 67's. Grimaldi is expected in the lineup for Ottawa's home opener tomorrow against the Peterborough Petes, and a much-welcomed addition he should be.

Brian Kilrea's team was outscored 9-5 and outshot 38-25 in its first game of the season, last Friday in Kingston.

"Our back end should be solid now," Kilrea said yesterday. "We'll have (Derek) Joslin back, Grimaldi back, (Elgin) Reid back ... now we have to concentrate on improving at the other end of the ice."

Joslin saw limited time against the Fronts as he spent much of that day returning from the San Jose Sharks camp, while Reid's night was cut short after he was hit in the face with the puck.

The right-handed shooting Grimaldi, who rounds out Kilrea's overage situation at least for now, had 27 points in 33 games with the 67's last season and will bolster the power play. He should also improve overall team toughness.

In trying to crack Ted Nolan's lineup, the Ronkonkoma (situated just off the Long Island Expressway), N.Y. native proved he's not afraid to drop the gloves with anyone.

Along with fighting diminutive Islanders veteran Jason Blake during one scrimmage, the 6-foot, 170-lb. Grimaldi also scrapped with ex-67's winger Chris Simon, who at 6-foot-3, 220 lbs. is still regarded as one of the NHL's premier heavyweights. Reportedly beaten and bloodied in the punchup, Grimaldi was later commended by Nolan and Islander veterans impressed with his courage.

"They know what it's like to go for a contract," Grimaldi told the New York Post. "If they don't like me, it's just too bad. If you want something, you've got to do what you've got to do.

"I'm not really a fighter. I just compete and work hard, and I guess when you play like that, you have to back it up because guys don't like it."

This 67's-Petes meeting will also mark the return of former Kilrea assistant Vince Malette, who has Peterborough off to a 1-1 start as its rookie coach. Game time at the Civic Centre is 7:30 p.m.


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