TORONTO -- Chris Neil has fought a lot of guys in the NHL who are considerably bigger than him. That's not a sportswriter sticking up for him. That's just fact.
Don't be surprised if Brian McGrattan soon joins the list.
McGrattan's aching to get at Neil (or just get in an NHL lineup again) after what the former Senators enforcer thought was a line-crossing fight Saturday at Scotiabank Place. Neil scrapped with Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg, a non-fighter, after he took a shot from him in front of the Boston goal.
McGrattan, who's now with the B's waiting for a chance to get in the lineup, said he protected Neil for years when he was a Senator. Ottawa GM Bryan Murray calls that the bull it is.
"I think it's ridiculous that Brian McGrattan or anybody could make any comment (questioning) the toughness of this man over the years, who he has taken on," Murray said of Neil before Tuesday's Senators-Leafs game at the ACC. "The stick came up on him in that incident and he reacted and fought. That was it. I'm not sure what Brian was trying to accomplish by that.
"I'm disappointed that Brian or anybody would say that, No. 1. No. 2, we want character guys and Chris is certainly a character guy."
Jason Spezza, who is close pals with McGrattan, says there was no rift between the two puglists when they were teammates. "They got along pretty good when they were here (together)," he said. "I think it's just more the case of (McGrattan) trying to make a good impression with his new team. Maybe he got a little overboard, but .... we know Neiler fights. We know Grats fights. They're both tough guys. Grats now is on a different team, and maybe he's trying to get in the lineup. Who knows the motivation behind it? It's one of those things, I guess, that happens when guys move on."
Don't think for a second that this story, which Neil rebutted with a scoff Tuesday, is over and put to bed.
"Maybe Grats is a little fired up," said Spezza. "Everybody knows Neiler fights a lot and sticks up for himself. They're both friends of mine, and I'm sure they'll settle it however they want to settle it."
The Senators and Bruins meet next Nov. 13 in Boston.
STARTS AND STOPS
There were all sorts of kind words for Murray coming from Leafs 'tender J.S. Giguere after the morning skate. "I know Burkie often said that Bryan had done a good job getting some young guys and making his job easier," Giguere said of Brian Burke, the Leafs GM who took over the reins from Murray in Anaheim before the Ducks beat the Senators in the 2007 Cup final. "It was mentioned a few times, for sure. I'm sure it stung a little bit when we beat them in 2007. But yeah, he's a great hockey man and he knows talent, there's no doubt about that." Giguere also says Murray paved the way for him to get one of the best 30 jobs available at his position.
"He's pretty sarcastic, but I liked him," said Giguere. "I liked him a lot. He gave me a good chance to play, a good chance to be a No. 1 goalie. I have good memories of him." ... Chris Campoli was either the first or second best goalie at ACC Tuesday night, unless our eyes deceived us from the pressbox. It sure looked like he robbed Phil Kessel of an open net with a soon-to-be patented back save, then also stopped Nikolai Kulemin's shot at an open net later in the second.
I THINK I THINK
The purple purse leaning up against Brian Elliott's goalie pads in the Sens dressing room belonged to a plucky blond reporter. It was not Elliott's. I'm going with that ... Ron Wilson knows his hockey, but I'm not sure I'd want him as my pitching coach. Speaking of winger Kulemin, who had one goal on just 14 shots entering Tuesday's game, he said: "He gets off a lot of shots, but sometimes, like a lot of young guys, he's trying to make a perfect shot. More often than not, when you're aiming for just inside the post and you're a little off, you miss the net. It's like a pitcher who's trying to hit corners and he's outside all the time when he should be just aiming for down the middle of the plate with a lit-t le movement." Wouldn't work against Buster Posey and the San Fran Giants ... With Mike Fisher standing in the paint, the Senators came close to having a similar situation as the Daniel Alfredsson disallowed goal Saturday. If Giguere made contact with him while sliding to the side, it would've been, like Yogi says, deja vu all over again.
Toronto's Andy Frost is one of the best P.A. announcers in the league. But really, does he have to tell us that Fisher's penalty shot goal was "unassisted." Really?
2 MINUTES WITH ...
Kris Versteeg. The Leafs winger originally had his name misspelled (Vertseeg) on the Stanley Cup he won with the Blackhawks last season. Similar errors were made with Manny Legace (Lagace) and Adam Deadmarsh (Deadmarch) in the past. "I was pretty much like, are you kidding me? I was kind of speechless at the start. Obviously they fixed it. My name's on the Cup and that's all that matters. I think they might have taken the misspelling anyway for the Hockey Hall of Fame