Facing a former team is nothing new to Binghamton defenseman Alex Grant.
He’s already done it twice this year.
The former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenseman, who was traded in the offseason for Harry Zolnierczyk, faced the Penguins four times as a member of the Norfolk Admirals and twice after he was traded to the Senators. And with Binghamton, Grant faced his former Admiral teammates four times as well.
And he’s not done yet.
Grant will be squaring off against his former Penguin teammates when Binghamton takes on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the first round of the AHL playoffs this weekend.
He admits it will be a little different this time around.
“The playoffs are more intense and there’s a lot on the line,” Grant said. “Although the first time I played against Wilkes-Barre it was pretty weird because there were some familiar faces. It was definitely weird facing them with Binghamton, being on a different team in the same division.”
So does that mean Grant will have second thoughts when it comes to laying a hit on a former Penguin teammate?
“In this league, you’re going to face your friends at some point. As long as you hit clean, it’s not a big deal,” he said. “If there’s a clean hit to be made, I’ll take it.”
Grant was drafted by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. He spent his first four seasons as a pro with the organization and in 2011-12 posted career highs for goals (10) and points (37, which he matched this season). Overall Grant appeared in 125 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but he said all that experience really doesn’t give him an advantage when it comes to facing his former team in the playoffs.
“With both teams, you have two coaches who are great minds behind the bench. There’s nothing that I know about the Penguins that you can’t see on video,” he said. “In Wilkes-Barre they pay a lot of attention to detail, and as a young player that’s what you need. I can’t think of a better place to have started my pro career.”
This season has been an eventful one for Grant. He spent the first half with Norfolk and earned his first NHL call-up, appearing in two games with Anaheim and scoring two goals.
After he was traded to Binghamton in March, he became teammates with a former rival in David Dziurzynski. During a rookie tournament in 2010, a hit from Dziurzynski resulted in Grant missing most of that season with a broken wrist.
The pair fought each other twice over the next two seasons, and now that they are teammates Grant said the bad blood is history.
“It’s water under the bridge now. It was what it was when we played each other,” Grant said. “When I was in the (Binghamton) room for the first time, it was a little different. But now the only time it gets talked about is when we joke about it.”
Today, the conversation focuses more on the Penguins and Grant’s chance to face his former team in the postseason. One thing that Grant does expect from his old team is a squad that will be determined to avenge a 5-4 loss they suffered to Binghamton in the last week of the season.
“They’re going to be that much more hungry in this series and we know they’ll never quit,” he said.