Hockey: McLain inks 2-year deal with Calgary
Former Brainerd Warrior Mitch Mclain will continue his professional hockey career.
BRAINERD — Mitch McLain is headed back north of the border.
The former Brainerd Warriors boys hockey standout recently signed a two-year deal with the Calgary Flames.
Whether McLain makes the NHL roster or remains in the AHL, he’ll be playing in Calgary as the organization moved its AHL officiate the Stockton Heat to Calgary.
McLain returns to the northwest. He played in the BCHL in Vancouver for the Langley Riverman from 2012-14.
“It’s kind of cool I get to go back to western Canada and our first preseason game is against the Vancouver Cunucks so I have a lot of friends and family who will be out there watching,” McLain said after a morning session with his Lakes Hockey Academy in Brainerd.
McLain said the two years on the deal was a key component to the new contact. Up until this point he had only signed one-year contracts. However, the Bowling Green State University grad, enjoyed one of his best professional seasons last year with the Milwaukee Admirals in the American Hockey League. In 76 games, Mclain tallied 17 goals and six assists.
Milwaukee finished third in the Central Division with a 39-28-5-4 record and advanced to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
“After last season with Milwaukee, I just wanted to get a for-sure two years, especially with the games-played rule coming into effect with me going forward. It’s just one of those things that I wanted someplace to call home and be on a team for two years and try and chase a championship with a group of guys for a bit.”
McLain said this was the calmest he’s been during contract negotiations. Because of the extended AHL season due to playoffs and turning around to get his academy season going, he didn’t have time to dwell on contracts.
“Each summer it comes pretty quick and teams start calling and you find out pretty quick where you stack up and passed that point any further it does start to get stressful, but at the same time it is your job and you just need to be ready to play when they say go.”
McLain is excited about the fresh start. He said that was key to his big year last year going from the Minnesota Wild’s organization to Nashville.
“I had been in Iowa for four seasons and it just kind of got stale,” McLain said. “The routine started to get to me. The fresh faces, the new environment, the new places to go, everything was new for me and really made me feel like a rookie. Sometimes when you feel that nervous energy you get excited and it ‘youngens’ you up.”
While he still loves going to the rink every day, the 28-year-old said the bus rides can wear on a person.
Adding to the revitalization Milwaukee provided, McLain was reunited with fellow Brainerd Warrior Cole Smith. Smith is staying in the Nashville organization.
“I’m just grateful that he is one of those guys that I can lean on and he pushes me and hopefully I push him,” McLain said. “When we come back home we get to share teaching kids together with the Academy.
“Last year it was just the right time and right situation for me. I went to Milwaukee and I kind of got to be Mitch Mclain, which is an in-your-face type of player. I got to go to the net and I got a chance to showcase what I can do on the power play which I had done my whole career up until turning pro. When you get chances to show what you can do and people believe in you and you can just be yourself it makes it a lot easier to play.”
Another former Warrior Josh Archibald will return to the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. He signed a $900,000 contract to return to the team that drafted him in 2011.
“'Arch' is a staple NHLer,” McLain said. “Every team needs a guy like him. When he’s home we get to skate with him and you can tell why. He’s just so fast. He has a high skill set and can play up and down the line. I’m just extremely excited he got another deal and I’m sure he’s excited to be back in Pittsburgh.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.