David McIntyre - Never Accept Anything Less Than Greatness

Author: Evan MacDonald, for PHPA.com
Date: Oct 11, 2013

With the start of the 2013-14 season, David McIntyre finds himself playing with a new organization, something that comes with the territory of being a professional hockey player.  “So many things come with changing teams: relocating to a new house, learning new systems, meeting new people and making new friends.  I was nervous, but when I arrived in Grand Rapids I was amazed at how many people were so welcoming and easy to make friends with.”

Last season, the 26-year old played for the Minnesota Wild’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Houston Aeros, where he notched 15 goals and 18 assists while registering a +19.  During the off-season though, the Aeros relocated to Iowa. 

“Moving from city to city is unfortunately what a lot of players deal with on a yearly basis so I guess most of us are used to not knowing where we will be playing from year to year.”

When asked about his time with Houston, knowing that the team would be relocating at season’s end, McIntyre only had good things to say.  “Leaving was bittersweet; the fans were unbelievable making it hard to leave because of how supportive they are.  We also had a nice arena, and there is a lot to do in Texas.  It really is unfortunate there isn’t hockey there anymore.”

While McIntyre enjoyed his two years in Houston, the Pefferlaw, Ontario native knows it is time to look forward.  “Being in Grand Rapids is a breath of fresh air especially knowing that my family can come see me whenever they want.  Pretty much everyone on this Grand Rapids team was part of the Calder Cup Championship team from last year, while I am the guy who was beat out by them in the first round.  We all had to watch the highlights, and the ceremonies.  It is cool and great to see it, but I never got to be apart of that last year and I want to do everything I can to help the team win the Cup again this year.”

It has been a winding road for McIntyre who was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round (138th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.  It was at that time when McIntyre had to choose between the Major Junior or College route, opting for the latter.  “It was 100% one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my life, but in the end decided to play NCAA hockey.”

McIntyre enjoyed a successful four years at Colgate University amassing 131 points in 151 games.  By the time his College career was over, McIntyre’s rights had been acquired by the New Jersey Devils of the NHL.

“The moment my season with Colgate ended, I was in contact with New Jersey, where both sides felt it would be good for me to get my feet wet with Lowell (New Jersey’s AHL affiliate), who had a good team that could make a nice playoff run.”  

Signing just in time to play the final 12 games of the regular season before being thrown into playoff hockey, McIntyre is quick to point out the differences he learned between college and professional hockey.  “If you are occasionally caught out of position in college it won’t really affect you.  Unfortunately, in pro hockey, if you are caught in the wrong position or make a mistake like a bad turnover, it usually ends up in the back of the net.”  

Eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, McIntyre then focused on the following season, where the team would relocate to Albany, and the center would score 12 goals and 18 assists in 78 games.

Now entering his fifth professional season, McIntyre joined Grand Rapids’ NHL parent club the Detroit Red Wings for training camp earlier this year.  “It is so great to be apart of a first class organization such as the Red Wings, and I’m glad I left the coaches and staff with a good taste of what I could do,” said McIntyre following a particularly good pre-season game against the Boston Bruins which saw Detroit win 8-2, and McIntyre register a goal and a fight.  

McIntyre appears to fit in well with a Detroit system which still has its share of stars from their dynasty era.  “(Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg are some of best players I’ve ever been on the ice with in my entire life.  Anything you can take away and soak in from those guys is worthwhile.  The way they protect and move the puck is so simple but done right every time.” 

“The best part about the Detroit organization,” adds McIntyre “is that they tell you exactly what you need to do to get better, with the systems outlined so strategically that there is no gray area.”

This wasn’t the first time that the McIntyre has been to the NHL.  After being traded from the Devils to the Minnesota Wild in the summer of 2011, McIntyre got his chance.  “I was thrilled.  It came out of nowhere, and I don’t think anybody is ever ready for their first call-up.  They might be physically prepared, but mentally, no.“

It was a quick turnaround for McIntyre who didn’t have much time to think about being called up.  “I found out we would be playing Tampa Bay the next day and flew out early.  I happened to miss the pregame skate, but how welcoming the guys were when I first got there was pretty special.  Showing me around and letting me know my role went a long way in helping me get settle in.”

McIntyre would end up playing 7 games for the Minnesota Wild during the 2011-12 season, with one moment in particular that he will never forget at the expense of the St. Louis Blues.  “My first goal may have been a fluke, but they all count right?” he says with a chuckle.

“I got a backdoor pass and I tipped it, trying to put it back across into the top corner. It actually just caught the back of Roman Polak and bounced in the open net.  I was pretty excited for that goal and had some great players involved in it.”  

While the AHL has been McIntyre’s primary home for the past four seasons, his ultimate goal remains in sight.  “I don’t want that to be my last set of NHL games; I want to prove I belong.”

The journey to the top is not short nor easy, and McIntyre lends some key advice.  “You really can never accept anything less than greatness.  You can’t wake up every day thinking it is okay to be average, because average people don’t excel in this sport or in any professional industry for that matter.  You have to learn that at a young age.”

With the season having recently begun, many young players also looking to make a statement enter the AHL, and it is up to players like McIntyre to make sure his teammates are comfortable and striving towards a common goal.  A major part of this process involves McIntyre’s position as a Player Representative with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association.  “What I like most about the role of Player Rep is being able to inform the other players of what the PHPA does for them.  The young guys come in and often don’t know about the day-to-day things like their health benefits.  It is rewarding knowing I can help and guide them through issues.  There is a lot at our disposal. “

As the 2013-14 season moves along, look for McIntyre and the Griffins to use the weapons at their disposal to defend their 2012-13  Calder Cup championship.

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