Behemoth will make 'em pay

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:45 AM ET

It's an old-school code.

Having a gunslinger and not needing him is better than needing a gunslinger and not having him.

Through the previous two seasons, the Edmonton Oilers contended they did not require, nor had room for a true heavyweight enforcer.

But a couple of injury-plagued seasons swayed their position on the subject and Steve MacIntyre cemented the debate with his first fight of the preseason, dropping Calgary's Jim Vandermeer last week in a spirited bout.

"It was mission accomplished," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "There were instant dividends on that acquisition. There were a lot of good, positive things in that game.

"He's very respectful to be here in the NHL and playing for the Oilers. He grew up in Saskatchewan as an Oiler fan, so there's lots of good positive things out of his first game."

MacIntyre, 28, earned the admiration of his teammates with just one fight. He pummelled Calgary Flames defenceman Jim Vandermeer in the Oilers penultimate exhibition using his face as a punching bag.

Earlier in that particular contest, Vandermeer had taken a cheap shot at Marc Pouliot after the Oilers forward had just scored a goal, then cut him badly in an ensuing fight. Pouliot had to be taken to the dressing room for repairs but did return after needing eight stitches on each of his two cuts.

"I love him for that," Pouliot said. "He came to me and told me that (Vandermeer) was going to get it. He's so big and so tough and he did a hell a job."

Claimed off waivers from the Florida Panthers, MacIntyre's journey to the NHL has been a long one.

He started his junior career with the Saskatoon Blades before moving on to play with the Red Deer Rebels, then the Prince Albert Raiders.

After graduating from the WHL, MacIntyre went on to play in the fight-filled Quebec semipro hockey league before getting a gig in the United Hockey League.

He then bounced around from between the AHL and ECHL and WHL2 before ending up in Providence last season.

There, MacIntyre accumulated 213 penalty minutes in 62 games.

"It's a big element," MacTavish said. "When you can afford the luxury of having a guy like that and Zack (Stortini) in the lineup, it's a big element.

"In our division there is a lot toughness. It just knocks everybody down one rung in terms of who they have to square up against and it's a little more balanced."

"It definitely makes you feel more comfortable to go out there and do your thing," added Oilers forward Sam Gagner.

"With the amount of skill we have, guys are going to try and take liberties on ice and are going to try and knock us out of the game.

"I think we've responded well so far, but I think MacIntyre just adds another element. When you have a guy like that, it definitely gives you a little more room for sure."


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