As I’m sure most (if not all) of you saw on Wednesday, Shavertown native Patrick McGrath is rejoining the Penguins on an AHL contract for the upcoming season.
Here is the team’s initial news release, which gives you a sense of the forward’s career path and on-ice production.
I talked to McGrath during the day, and I sensed the enthusiasm in his voice when he talked about returning to the Baby Pens. One of the key things I took away was how he emphasized how well the organization has treated him. I think it speaks volumes to the lengths at which Pittsburgh has made it a point to build a team-first mentality and make sure its players are happy off the ice at all levels.
For example, I asked McGrath about the departures of Kyle Moore and Doug Davidson, and the first thing he did was say how happy he was for them and that he wished them all the best. There really is a sense of community among the players, coaches and staff of this team, and because of that, it’s really not hard to believe how well they perform year after year.
In case you are curious, McGrath has also been keeping a close eye on the Stanley Cup Final. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton presence in the lineup is not lost on him, and it goes further than Jake Guentzel and Carter Rowney.
“It’s pretty cool to watch (Matt) Murray, (Bryan) Rust and (Conor) Sheary be a part of it again,” he said. “It’s just cool to see.”
Ultimately, the signing is a win-win for both sides. The Penguins get a gritty player with a fantastic work ethic who can handle the enforcer role and rile up the fans on any given night, and McGrath gets a chance to continue developing his all-around game with some of the league’s top talent around him.
And perhaps most important, he gets a chance to continue giving back to the hockey community he’s been connected with since his childhood.
I’m looking forward to seeing him back at Coal Street this fall.
Other AHL notes
A return to the War Memorial was just what the doctor ordered for Syracuse.
The Crunch beat Grand Rapids Wednesday night in what essentially was a must-win game. It’s now a 2-1 series. A cool note: it was the first home win by a Syracuse team in the Calder Cup Finals since 1938(!) at the New York State Fairgrounds Coliseum.
And further west, the Las Vegas Golden Knights continued to make staff moves and placed Rocky Thompson in charge of the Chicago Wolves. If that name sounds familiar, he played for Hershey in 2001-02 and bounced around the league quite a bit. He also just coached the Windsor Spitfires to a Memorial Cup title.
That’s all I have for now. Catch you back here soon!