Penguins addition is ready to protect Crosby
Sidney Crosby still has not been cleared to absorb contact.
Steve MacIntyre doesn't intend on Crosby receiving any hits this season, anyway.
The new Penguins' enforcer, MacIntyre is one of hockey's most feared fighters and possesses a particularly clear understanding of his occupational duties.
Protecting Crosby, who hasn't played since Jan. 5 because of a concussion, is his top priority.
"My job," MacIntyre said, "is to make sure his transition back to hockey goes smoothly."
A veteran of 12 minor league seasons, MacIntyre fought his way into the NHL with Edmonton in 2008. He has amassed 2,388 penalty minutes in his minor league career, along with a reputation for violent knockouts. MacIntyre has played 78 NHL games, recording two goals and 157 penalty minutes.
He is precisely what the Penguins want in an enforcer, a no-nonsense guy willing to protect Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but also someone who is a popular locker room presence.
"Steve was a guy that we have talked about for a couple of summers," coach Dan Bylsma said.
MacIntyre appreciated the Penguins' interest this summer and is excited about the opportunity to protect the game's brightest star.
"They're a little more take-the-bull-by-the-horns here," MacIntyre said of the Penguins, who produced the NHL's second most fights last season. "I like that. It's a good test for me."
After spending more than a third of his life in the minor leagues, the 31-year-old MacIntyre values the opportunity of protecting Crosby and playing with the Penguins. His first practice with the Penguins made MacIntyre feel like a kid.
"I mean, it's Sidney Crosby," he said. "I told a couple of my buddies back home that they'll never guess who my center was in practice. It was one of the highlights of my career. I know it was just practice, but still, it's Sidney Crosby."
With tough guys Eric Godard and Mike Rupp gone via free agency, MacIntyre and defenseman Deryk Engelland figure to confront any player who attempts to rough up Crosby. Engelland, who emerged as one of the league's most noteworthy fighters last year, speaks highly of MacIntyre.
"He's arguably the toughest guy in the league," Engelland said. "Heavy punch. He knows the time to do it. If anyone's going to run around, he'll jump right in."
MacIntyre and Engelland boast similar stories, both playing for years in the minor leagues before making it to the NHL. Now, both have vested interest in making the Penguins among hockey's toughest teams.
MacIntyre is already popular in the locker room and has gotten his coach's attention.
"He scares me when I'm in a room with him," Bylsma said with a smile.
Steve MacIntyre, one of the NHL's feared fighters, intends to protect Sidney Crosby this season.
Career record in NHL fights: *14-4
Number of fights since 2004: 90
Career NHL penalty minutes: 157
Career minor league penalty minutes: 2,388
Weight: 250 pounds
*—According to www.hockeyfights.com