During his time in the WHL and the AHL, New York Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath developed a reputation as a tough as nails defender: a big young man who hits hard, and will back it up with his fists. McIlrath, a former first round draft pick of the Rangers, was playing in his second NHL game on Sunday night when he got into his first fight in the show.
That fight came against veteran Calgary Flames enforcer Brian McGrattan in the second period. As you might expect, McGrattan tuned the rookie up pretty good:
NHL enforcers have a unique ethos, and a reputation for getting along pretty well off of the ice. After this particular fight, for example, McGrattan complimented McIlrath's spirited effort:
Basically McIlrath, having completed his final coming of age ritual, has become an adult member of the enforcer community. McGrattan in effect presided over McIlrath's pugilist bar mitzfah.
In addition to a smile, McGrattan also put a cut on the young defenseman's face: