When the Nashville Predators acquire a new player, it is usually head coach Barry Trotz who volunteers to provide the chauffeuring service for the new acquisition when he lands at the airport.
After the Predators claimed forward Richard Clune off of waivers from the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday, it was not Trotz who headed over to BNA to pick up the team’s newest player. Clune and Nashville tough guy Brian McGrattan have been friends for years, so it was McGrattan who wanted to be the one who welcomed Clune to his new city.
“I was surprised and excited when they picked him up yesterday,” McGrattan said. “We have been friends for a couple of years. He came to my wedding this summer and we have kept in touch this year. It’s good to see him get a chance. He has been in the minors for a little bit, so hopefully this is the break he is looking for.”
A week ago, McGrattan announced via Twitter that he had just purchased a new Dodge Challenger, and that was the car he picked Clune up in upon his arrival. The new ride left an impression on Clune.
“The Batmobile, it is a pretty cool ride,” he said.
“It is always easier for a guy coming in when they know somebody, so that is why I grabbed him,” McGrattan said. “I wanted to make him feel comfortable right away.”
After general manager David Poile put in the waiver claim on Clune, members of the organization said that he played a similar role to that of former Predator forward Jordin Tootoo, who signed with the Detroit Red Wings in the offseason.
After his first on-ice session with the Predators Wednesday morning in their controlled scrimmage, Clune sounded like he was auditioning to fit into that position on the roster.
“I am a pretty aggressive player,” he said. “I just play the way I can out there. It’s what gotten me successful. I just skate, hit, be nasty on the forecheck and get under the other team’s skin. That being said, I try and make plays and be a simple player. I am doing my job when the other team is chasing me around.”
Clune played 14 games with the Kings during the 2009-10 season, and has been with Los Angeles’ AHL team in Manchester the last two seasons. In 122 AHL games played over the course of those two seasons, Clune has amassed an impressive 475 penalty minutes.
Tootoo and Clune fought one another March 14, 2010 when the Predators and Kings met in Los Angeles.
The early returns Wednesday were positive in the eyes of Trotz.
“You can tell he hits hard,” Trotz said. “You can tell the strength he has. I was happy with him. He skated better than I thought he might. He was good. You can tell he was eager. He wants to get back in the National Hockey League. You are talking about a young, hungry guy that is going to bring a little bit of energy and a little bit of bang.”
Clune has just a couple of more practice sessions to establish a spot on the 2013 Nashville roster. He is battling several others for playing time on the team’s fourth line.
McGrattan thinks Clune is a Predator-type player.
“Honest, physical, agitator kind of game – those are the guys you need on your team and you want playing for you and mix things up and provide energy,” Nashville’s heavyweight said.