Mikhail Grabovski would like nothing more than to separate himself from his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
That was pretty evident Monday when the Capitals’ 29-year-old center was asked what he thought about the melee that ensued Sunday between the Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. You can see the video here.
“I don’t care anymore about that team,” Grabovski said. “Who cares? My team is here.”
Asked what he thought of former teammate Phil Kessel’s two chops at the legs of Buffalo’s John Scott, along with a spear attempt later in the brawl, Grabovski remarked, “How do you say in English? Like a Musketeer. Swish! Swish! Swish!”
But Grabovsky wasn’t quite finished, wondering why someone wasn’t on the ice protecting Kessel, who could be slapped with a lengthy suspension by the NHL.
“Where was Orrby?” Grabovski asked. “Where was Colton Orr to protect him?”
Some would suggest Grabovski would have enjoyed the melee in Toronto. An emotional player, Grabovski was accused last February of biting Montreal’s Max Pacioretty in a scrum, an act he later defended by saying Pacioretty was trying to choke him.
“All my life I always emotional,” he said.
Tonight in Boston, Grabovski will make his preseason debut as a Capital, centering a line with left wing Brooks Laich and right wing Troy Brouwer. His arrival in Washington was delayed 10 days because of visa issues that kept him in Toronto, but after a week of practices, Grabovski said he’s anxious to write the next chapter of his career.
“I’m very comfortable and ready to play,” he said. “Hopefully, I start really good.”
Grabovski scored his first NHL goal against the Bruins as a member of the Montreal Canadiens in 2007-08, but his last visit to Beantown ended with the Leafs being eliminated from the first round of the playoffs in shocking fashion, blowing a three-goal lead in a 5-4 overtime loss in Game 7.
“I learn from that a lot,” he said, “not to make that mistake anymore.”
Capitals coach Adam Oates said he’s seen plenty of videotape of Grabovski and says his willingness to play in high-traffic areas of the ice is more valuable than what many would call an edginess to his game.
“I don’t think he’s an edgy player,” Oates said. “He doesn’t shy away from it but I don’t think he engages it. But I like the fact he plays in traffic.”
Grabovski, a native of Belarus, will start the season on the second line but he’s likely to see time on the second power play unit, where he’ll play alongside Alex Ovechkin for the first time.
“It’s a great experience for me,” he said. “I never in my life saw a player like that. He’s a scoring machine.”