On December 29, 2013, Andrew Alberts was playing in his 10th game of the season against the Calgary Flames. About 2:40 into the game, this happens:
The initial point of contact looks ok, body to body. But then Brian McGrattan gets his hand(s) and stick up into Alberts' face right after initial contact. That looks to be where the damage was done. It was reckless on the big Flames forward's part. He was ejected from the game after Tom Sestito made him answer the bell. The NHL Department Of Justice did not punish McGrattan at all.
Today, as The Vancouver Sun reports, Alberts is still feeling the effects of it, some 5 months later, and he is wondering if his playing career is over. And there are some heartbreaking stories and quotes in that article. Alberts had begged to go out on the ice prior to the Canucks' final game of the season (which trainer Mike Burnstein obliged) so that he could go out on NHL ice for perhaps the last time.
McGrattan never called Alberts to apologize or see how he was doing. He did defend his own actions though. Alberts told the Sun:
"I don’t think that’s in his nature. I think there should have been some supplemental discipline. If I’m Sidney Crosby, it’s probably a 15-game suspension. The frustrating part is I’m working my ass off trying to be on the team and get in the lineup, something like that happens and the guy gets off free and now here I am just hoping I can have one day without headaches.
"I’ve kind of just let it go because there’s no point in dwelling on what happened. I just want to get healthy again to the point where I’m not having issues and can just have a normal day around the house. That’s where my focus is right now."
He's right about the Crosby concept, by the way. I mean, Zack Kassian got 8 games for his high stick on Sam Gagner. I guess you have to suffer a broken jaw or get stretchered off to garner suspension points. Tough guy Alberts skated off on his own after the McGrattan hit. Optics. Whatever. The end result is the same. His career is in jeopardy.
Alberts becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, one day after he turns 33 years-old. The writing seems to be on the wall.
The Canucks acquired Alberts from the Carolina Hurricanes for a 3rd round draft pick in March of 2010. They re-signed him twice in his 5-year tenure here. Sure, he looked slower than the competition many nights, and he at times took bad penalties. But I like guys like A-Train. Not flashy, but a real lunchpail kinda guy. The nickname "A-Train" is fitting, right Pavel Datsyuk?
No, that does not happen very often to Datsyuk.
He didn't score many goals, but let's look at the ones he did bag:
His first goal as a Canuck:
His second goal as a Canuck came against his former team:
His third goal, against the Sharks again:
His final goal as a Canuck (March 30, 2012):
Take care of yourself Mr. Alberts. Hope you get well soon.