The AHL’s San Diego Gulls have left San Antonio for Austin, but Brian McGrattan isn’t with them.
“(Head coach) Dallas (Eakins) said, ‘This is my call. You’re going home,’” McGrattan told me Wednesday morning, with a little laugh. “Dustin Tokarski was injured last night, too. We’re going to head back to San Diego. We’ll check in with the training staff daily and be re-assessed when the team gets back.”
There’s no doubt that’s the right decision.
McGrattan was knocked down — and out — Tuesday night in a fight with Rampage forward Daniel Maggio at 3:31 of the second period.
“The video looks brutal,” McGrattan agrees.
Warning: Video may be upsetting
“I came around right away. Went through the baseline tests in our training room. Doctors wanted to send me for a CT scan to make sure there weren’t any broken bones, so I went to hospital for about 20 minutes, then came back.”
The important thing was McGrattan’s wife Michelle, who has been an outstanding influence on his life, knew he’d regained consciousness long before the injury went viral.
McGrattan, Eakins and GM Bob Ferguson had all reached out to let her know he was moving around.
“I have a Canadian cellphone, and my data was off. When I got back to the hotel and hooked up to the wireless, my phone started blowing up like crazy. I was thinking, ‘What the hell’s going on?’ I didn’t know that video got out.’”
Yes, it did. And, as McGrattan said, it looked brutal. There was the injury, and there was the cheering.
“The fans here, they don’t know any better,” was all he said about that.
About the injury?
“It looked a lot worse than it was,” he answers. “That’s what can happen. I’ve been the top dog for a long time. I was humble as the top guy, and you’re humble when you lose. It’s not a big shot to the ego. As for being scared in the future? No chance. I’m going to play the same way, and if I have to fight, that’s the way it is. I’ve done that to guys, that’s the brutality of that job.
“But I’m not stupid when it comes to injuries. I’ve had concussions. You let them ride out, don’t battle through them, wait until fully healed before returning to play. I always see how my body feels. If it says you don’t go, you don’t go.
“We have one more game next week before the (AHL All-Star) break. If I’m not ready by then, I’ll wait until after.”
He knows what question is coming next. The question about fighting. He cuts me off.
“Let’s face it, it’s not going to be around much longer.”
He added his wife will keep an eye on him, to see if there are any mood swings or anything else that raises concern. They have a nine-month old son, Gabriel. McGrattan says they have a long hallway in their San Diego apartment, and he loves watching Gabriel crawl from one end to the other.
This past December, McGrattan reached seven years of sobriety.
“There’s more good things in my life now then before. People on the outside care for me. I know it’s a scary thing to watch, but I’m not scared at all.”