Fighting words from ex-Sen

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

TORONTO — If Brian McGrattan was trying to pick a fight with Chris Neil through the media, it didn’t work.

On Monday, Neil refused to retaliate to verbal jabs from McGrattan, who told a Boston reporter he had to “protect” Neil for three years when they were teammates.

“I’m sure he’s trying to get into the lineup there, he’s been around for a little bit,” Neil said of McGrattan, who signed with the Bruins in the off-season, but has yet to play a game for them at the NHL level. “Brian was a good teammate here. I have nothing bad to say about the guy. He’s been through a lot of adversity himself. I think it says a lot about his character to get another opportunity. to get in the National Hockey League. He’s just trying to get into the lineup. That’s the way he knows how.”

McGrattan was sounding off about Neil’s fight Saturday with B’s defenceman Dennis Seidenberg, a 29-year-old German who has now dropped the gloves four times in his eight-season NHL career. 

“That’s typical Chris Neil,” McGrattan, who was a Senator from 2002-08, told the Boston Globe. “I had to protect that guy for three years when I was there. He’d do that and I’d have to fight all his battles for him the next time we’d play a team after he’d do something stupid like that. It doesn’t surprise me.

“That’s the way he does it,” McGrattan continued. “He’ll do something where he knows he’ll get kicked out of the game and won’t have to come back and fight anybody. I’ve been around him long enough to know he does that. Then I’m the one who usually has to fight his battles the next time. It’s typical.”

Scoffing at that was Neil, who has been in 112 NHL regular-season fights and is the Senators’ all-time penalty minutes leader.

“I know the way I play, my teammates know the way I play, the whole league knows the way I play,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been around this long, that’s why I’ve got a couple of more years left in me too.”

Neil said he fought Seidenberg after after taking a couple of shots from him.

“It doesn’t matter who I’m out against, I’m a guy who plays hard, plays tough,” he said. “Doesn’t matter who you are, if you punch me in the face a couple of times, you’re going to have to answer the bell.

Neil also said he never had any issues with McGrattan, and that he even took him under his wing when McGrattan was finally promoted to Ottawa after three seasons in Binghamton.

“When Brian was here, we got along great,” he said. “I kinda looked out for him. He got in the lineup here, he played, tried to help him out as best as I could, bring a young guy in  ... I think he flourished in the role. He’s made himself to play in the NHL for how many games he’s played.”

The Senators and Bruins next meet Nov. 13 in Boston.


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