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04-07-2011, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Lion Hound View Post
Very true...Lots of players come out of Jrs as the toughest guy on the block, but upon reaching the pro level they might not even be the toughest guy on the line they play on. The thing is, in the past the AHL had tough guys but the better guys were at the NHL level. Noways, there is no shortage of enforcers at the AHL level, probably more than at the NHL level. McIlrath is going to be thrown right into the mix there. But hey, all these tough guys start somewhere. I look back at Eric Cairns because I think there are some similarities. Not sure what he did in Jrs, if he even did play Jrs, but at the AHL level Cairns tore it up. In the mid 90's Cairns spent two years at Bingo and punished people. No joke...after a while nobody wanted to fight the guy. He came to the Rangers highly touted as a tough guy and in his first 5 fights or so he beat his opponents pretty good. Then he met Craig Berube and Berube smoked him. He ended up losing a few more after than and was labeled as having a glass jaw. He was maybe 21 at the time. Rangers send him to the pack after a season and he refines his game. He was one of thier better defenders, and the Isles snatch him up. He goes to the Coliseum to become one of the most feared and best enforcers in the game at the time. He fought everyone and beat the elite at the trade, but he also became a decent defenseman. Jagr once said Cairns was the one guy he hated to play against because he knew every time he did he would take physical abuse.

Back to McIlrath...There is plenty of time to grow into the role for him though. The fighting will come, and he is already elite at that for his age group, but I am really hoping he can impose his will on opposing forwards like he did in Jrs. Hitting, and playing physical is an art, and a gift if you can do it without hurting your team by penalties and or taking yourself out of the play. But...the midset among fans and sometimes the organization itself is often "you are only as good as your last fight, your last hit, or your last game."

My point is if Mc is on the losing end of a tilt, or makes a bad play had a bad game etc, I hope that people don't write the guy off like they did with Cairns. Take him for what he is. A kid...A prospect, that needs time to learn the game at a faster level against bigger stronger opponents and develop into the guy this club wanted and still needs to this day. A physical menace on the blueline.
Lion that is one fantastic post. Really sums it up the kid is a animal but he is a kid let him grow into being a man.

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