Brian McGrattan assigned to Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Boston Bruins have assigned forward Brian McGrattan to Providence for a three-game conditioning stint.

He is scheduled to play all three games for the P-Bruins this weekend, and he said he’s excited for the opportunity to play in some games. He will return the Bruins on Monday.

The Bruins signed the 29-year-old tough guy as a free agent earlier this month and he’s been a healthy scratch for all seven regular season games. He did play in two preseason exhibition games for Boston, but his last real game action was with the Calgary Flames last February.

“I want to come down here and get my legs going in a game situation,” McGrattan said. “I haven’t played too much in the last 6 or 7 months. I’m looking forward to coming down here and playing. I’ll use these three games as a stepping stone to get in the [Bruins’] lineup.”

Shawn Thornton currently occupies the Bruins’ enforcer role, and Boston’s fourth line of Thornton, Brad Marchand and Gregory Campbell has been playing well this season. The Bruins are 5-2-0, so for anyone to crack into the lineup at this point could be difficult.

To say McGrattan and Thornton have been in a tussle or two during their respective careers would be a huge understatement. In fact, one of McGrattan’s first pro fights was against Thornton. It was during the 2002-2003 season when McGrattan was playing in the AHL for the Binghamton Senators. Thornton was with the Chicago Blackhawks, but got sent down to their affiliate, Norfolk Admirals.

“He gave it to me,” McGrattan remembers. “He was pissed off because he just got sent down.”

The pugilist’s fraternity is a close one, and now that both are on the same team, they’re hanging out, laughing and joking with one another.

“It’s been good,” McGrattan said. “He’s been one of the guys who talks to me the most on the team, and we’ve had a pretty good connection so far. I’m just looking forward to getting in the lineup.”

McGrattan has played in 182 games in the NHL, splitting time between the Calgary Flames, Phoenix Coyotes and Ottawa Senators. He made his NHL debut with the Senators during the 2005-2006 season, and spent last winter with the Flames, playing in 34 games with 86 penalty minutes.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder still owns the AHL record for penalty minutes in a season with 551 in 71 games during the 2004-2005 season as a member of the Binghamton Senators.

McGrattan has a working relationship with Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli from their days with the Ottawa Senators.

“It’s been great,” McGrattan said of his brief time in Boston. “Coaches have been great, management has been great and I’m just looking forward to getting in the lineup.”

The P-Bruins will host the Albany Devils tonight (7:05) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. They’ll will travel to Worcester on Saturday to play the Sharks, before returning home on Sunday to host Worcester.