SUN Hockey Pool

He's a firestarter

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:29 PM ET

Opposing goaltenders, beware. Coaches, you're not safe either.

Flames enforcer Brantt Myhres is willing to drop the gloves with pretty much anybody.

However, the 31-year-old wasn't always an on-ice policeman.

In fact, he once held an appreciation for the game's finesse and skill.

"Growing up, my eyes were glued to the Oilers," the Edmonton product says. "But once Gretz got traded, it was all off the table.

"Then I was a Tim Hunter fan and a Calgary Flames fan. That's how much it bothered me. I turned to the Flames right then."

With the Flames' bruiser as his new idol, Myhres headed off to his first junior camp with the Portland Winter Hawks.

And his career headed down a different path.

"My first ever fight was against a goalie," he says. "I was 15 and I squared off with the backup 'tender and we went at it.

"When I left the ice after the fight, his brother came down from the stands and suckered me. So, now he's beating me up in the dressing room.

"I didn't know what to think of the Western Hockey League at that point. But I learned how to fight and I kept my eyes open at all times, even leaving the ice."

He cracked the 'Hawks lineup the following year and was immediately thrown into the enforcer's role.

"I probably had 25 majors as a 16-year-old so I was definitely busy. My first five fights I did really well in and that's where I gained my confidence. If you're a young kid coming up and you get in a fight early and you don't do so well, it can really make you shy away from that style of play."

Traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes four games into his sophomore season, Myhres became the heavyweight champion of the WHL, piling up a league-high 381 PIM. He received nearly nightly dance invitations from other tough guys trying to make their mark.

"And I had to oblige," he says.

"I was only 17 at that point. I was fighting more than every second game. I only played 65 games and I had 42 fights."

He realized quickly if he was going to make it to the NHL, his fists would have to take him there.

"I just wanted to get drafted and I didn't care what it took.

"I remember my dad saying 'well, son, you're not potting 40. So you might want to get into the rough stuff a little more.' I took his advice."

And it worked.

Tampa Bay selected the hulking left winger in the fifth round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.

Myhres, who has piled up 687 PIM in 154 NHL games, was involved in a wild, bench-clearing brawl in Norfolk last season while plying his trade with the Flames' AHL farm club in Lowell.

"It was the craziest thing I've ever been involved in," he says.

"I went up to Jim Vandermeer at the end of the period as both teams were skating off and I said something to him. Then the coaches started screaming at each other.

"I looked back and their team was coming on the ice and they didn't have their jerseys on. So we turned around, went back out and it was 20 guys on 20 guys."

Certainly not one to shy away from a good dust-up, Myhres jumped into the fray and eventually ended up slugging it out with Admirals coach Trent Yawney.

"I got up from a pile and Trent was saying stuff to me that I didn't think was appropriate," he says. "I never really thought about it. I just reached over and grabbed him by the tie at centre ice. It was a quick decision. I ended up punching him and three guys were drilling me from the side."

Myhres was handed an eight-game suspension and both coaches, Yawney and the Lock Monsters' Tom Rowe, were given 10 games.

Myhres slugged it out for six NHL teams before being reunited with Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter in Calgary. Myhres also played for Sutter in San Jose from 1998 to 2000.

"The good thing is someone always wants you," he says. "The bad thing is you never seem to get settled and you're always unsure of your job."

Myhres, who also lugged his gear around with eight different teams in the AHL and IHL, wore out his welcome with some clubs due to an alcohol problem, for which he was given a one-year suspension from the NHL.

"I wasn't giving it what I needed to give it to be a professional hockey player," he says, noting the problem is behind him. "My career has suffered because of it.

"But Darryl Sutter has stuck with me and has been really loyal to me."


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