He may have dropped the gloves with one of the NHL’s toughest fighters only seconds into his first NHL shift, but Lane MacDermid has a lot more to offer than his willingness and ability to fight.
Certainly at first glance, the 22-year-old left winger embodies the role of a fighter. In his 3 years in the Ontario Hockey League, his 2 years in the American Hockey League, and his 3 games in the NHL, his offensive contributions pale in comparison to his fighting majors and penalty minutes. Before he was called up from Providence to the Bruins over the weekend, he didn’t cross many minds as a candidate to step in for Daniel Paille after he was injured in Saturday’s loss to the Islanders. But MacDermid has blended in well with the Merlot Line in Paille’s absence, and it’s obvious now why he was the first choice to step in that role on the energy line.
Born on August 25, 1989, MacDermid was drafted at a relatively older age than most; he was 20 years old when the Bruins selected him 112th overall in 2009. He had spent the previous 3 years in the OHL with the Owen Sound Attack and the Windsor Spitfires, including a Memorial Cup Championship with the Spitfires in 2009.
MacDermid played with the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL for 2 full seasons from 2006-2007 to 2007-2008, and split the 2008-2009 season between the Sound Attack and the Spitfires, where he was traded to 26 games into the season. Over those 3 seasons, MacDermid played in 187 games. He tallied 20 goals and 26 assists for 66 points, and 502 penalty minutes – including a total of 52 fighting majors. With the Windsor Spitfire in the playoffs en route to the championship, MacDermid played in 20 games with 4 goals and 5 assists for 10 points and 38 penalty minutes. Soon after, he was drafted by the Bruins.
MacDermid’s style of play is clearly similar to that of his father, Paul MacDermid, who played in the NHL for 14 seasons with 4 teams. From 1981-1982 through 1993-1994, the senior MacDermid played in a total of 690 NHL games (the majority with the Hartford Whalers, where Lane was born, and the rest with the Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals, and Quebec Nordiques) with a total of 257 points and 1303 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he added another 43 games, 16 points, and 116 penalty minutes. A quick youtube search of Paul MacDermid quickly illustrates the type of player he was in an era where such play was not necessarily a negative. (My personal favorite is this throw down with Brendan Shanahan). Drafted in 1981 by the Hartford Whalers, Paul MacDermid had a career total of 28 fights for the Whalers. In his subsequent teams, he added 10 for the Jets, 4 for the Capitals, and 3 for the Nordiques. In 1967-87 as a Whaler, he broke the 200 penalty minute mark, playing in 72 games and contributing 18 points. Lane MacDermid readily admits that his father is a big influence on him, and actively gives him advice.
Prior to this season, MacDermid had spent 2 full seasons with the Providence Bruins of the AHL in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 after the Bruins drafted him with their 3rd pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at 112th overall in the 4th round. His 1st professional season was with the Providence Bruins in 2009-2010 in which he played 65 games, had 5 points, and a total of 155 penalty minutes, which led the entire team. He had a total of 21 fighting majors that season, which ranked him 2nd in the AHL for fighting majors by a rookie for the year.
Before the 2010-2011 season, MacDermid participating in the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders rookie games in September of 2010. MacDermid wasted little time making his mark on Garden ice when he fought Islanders rookie Travis Hamonic in the 2nd game. In an interview before the rookie games, MacDermid described himself as a player:
I’m trying to mold myself to be a power forward. Obviously, I play a physical game but I am tryingto expand my skillset so I can play more – a bigger role on the team.
He also explained his role as a fighter:
If something arises, I’m obviouslygoing to take that opportunity…We’ve got a lot of skilled guys on the team so obviously part of my role is to protect those guys.
In his 2nd year with the Providence Bruins in the 2010-2011 season, MacDermid improved upon his rookie season by recording 19 points in 78 games, and only increasing his total number of penalty minutes by 3, to 158 (3rd most on the team). Thus far this season with the Providence Bruins, prior to his call-up, he had played in 57 games, recording 14 points and 104 penalty minutes, putting him on track for his best offensive professional season thus far. He plays a tough, physical game that goes along with the Bruins team style, most pointedly on the team’s energy line. He also exhibits a strong work ethic and ability to play well in his defensive zone, all which merited his call-up to the NHL.
When MacDermid made his NHL debut against the Rangers on Saturday, his family – including his father – was in attendance at Madison Square Garden. And only seconds into his first shift in the NHL, MacDermid proved his toughness by throwing down with one of the toughest in the league, Mike Rupp. In his first NHL game, MacDermid’s 5 penalty minutes for his fighting major and 5:26 of total ice time didn’t leave much of an impression, but he continued to improve over the next 2 games.
On Tuesday, he dressed in his 2nd game with the Bruins against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. As an Ontario native, he was understandably excited to play near where he grew up. The entire Bruins team played well, earning a much-needed win. MacDermid’s play was impressive – especially his 6 hits in 8:41 of ice time. He also had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot.
MacDermid’s ability to contribute meaningfully to the Bruins essential energy line was perfectly exemplified in Thursday night’s win over the Buffalo Sabres for his 1st home game as a Bruin. He was a +1 as he was on the ice with his linemates, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton, when Thornton’s slapshot off a turnover/lucky bounce in offensive zone was perfectly tipped into the net by Campbell. MacDermid remained in sync with Campbell and Thornton – who he had previous experience with from training camp – as Coach Claude Julien rolled all 4 lines through the course of the game, including significant time towards the end of the game while the Bruins were defending a 3-1 lead. In total, MacDermid saw 12:54 of ice time, 2 shots on net, 2 blocked shots, and 1 takeaway.
Julien said of MacDermid after Thursday’s win:
What I like about those kinds of guys is that they’re pretty tough individuals, but they can play. I think that’s always important.
Obviously he has some good genes, and he obviously has some hockey sense. You watch him play— he finishes his checks well, he plays a big, tough grinding-type game — but he also plays a smart game. When it’s time to back check or be the third man, he reads the play well.
(He’s) certainly not a liability out there, and right now what I’ve appreciated in him is that he’s come in and not played on his heels. He’s just gone out there and played hard and seems to have a lot of confidence. (From Boston Herald.)
In contrast to MacDermid’s description of his own game at age 20, 2 years later after his experience in a few NHL games, he said:
I try to play that hard game, finish my checks, get in the odd fight here and there. That’s the type of player I am, and it’s brought me to this stage in my career, so I’ll keep going with that. (From the Taunton Gazette.)
From the talent pool in Providence, MacDermid’s call up may have come as a surprise, but no other player from Providence could fill in on the energy line as well as MacDermid has. And he doesn’t have to do it primarily by dropping his gloves every chance he gets – an important lesson he has learned and will continue to learn. When Paille gets healthy, MacDermid will have the opportunity to finish the season strong in Providence, and prepare for a bright future ripe with opportunities to make an impact and earn a spot in the NHL.