Grant McPherson is a talented forward for the Milton Keynes Lightning who comes from a country that is not especially noted for it’s hockey prowess: Scotland. The 26 year-old Scot has entered his 8th season with the Lightning and caught up with me to give me some insight on the EPL and growing up loving hockey in Scotland.
March Hockey: First things first, being a native of Scotland which isn’t really known for their hockey, how did you get into the game and who influenced your play growing up?
Grant McPherson: It all started when I was on a family vacation in Washington DC with the family. It was the night we arrived and my mom, dad & I went straight to sleep but my brother was wide awake so he turned on the TV. It just so happened that it was a Pittsburgh Penguins game that came on and he couldn’t turn it off. In the morning, he told us what he watched. We didn’t even know if it existed back home but my dad said he would have a look into it. From there we started going to watch the Fife Flyers and I started playing at the age of 8. Growing up, I guess it was Fife players like Doug Smail, Frank Morris and Mark Morrison I looked up to but Jaromir Jagr was my all time favourite player.
MH: What’s it like being given the promotion of “Alternate Captain”?
GM: It was a massive honour. All throughout juniors I was a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ so I knew I had leadership qualities in me. With this being my 8th season with the Milton Keynes Lightning, I feel like I am now one of the more experienced players in the team and I want to help the younger guys improve as much as I can. It was a proud day when I got that call from my coach Nick Poole.
MH: Where do you want your career to take you next?
GM: Honestly, I want to finish my career with MK Lightning in the English Premier League. It’s a great organization to play for. From top to bottom. I’m now 26, so I hope I have a few years left but it’s time for me to concentrate on getting a proper career outside of hockey. Unfortunately, there is no money in the sport in this country and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.
MH: How is the fan base for the Milton Keynes Lightning? Do you get enough support?
GM: We have an outstanding Fan Base here at Milton Keynes. I would say, the best in the league! This season, our home rink is being refurbished so we have to play out of the Coventry Blaze’s Skydome Arena (1 hour bus ride away) and the fans are still turning out in great numbers. As a team, we really do appreciate their support.
MH: If you play with or against any player in the world, who would it be and why?
GM: I would have to say Jaromir Jagr. He was my hero growing up but I would also like to see just how good Sidney Crosby really is first hand in a game. Also Patrick Kane, I think he would pull my pants down with his dangles.
MH: British hockey is great hockey to watch and not enough people on this side of the pond give it enough credit. Do you see the EPL continuing to grow as a league?
GM: I think the English Premier League is great quality. It improves year on year. Obviously, the Elite league is the ‘big’ league over here but I really don’t think the gap is that big. Ok, maybe your Belfast’s, Nottingham’s and Sheffield’s are quite far ahead but I think the top EPL sides would give a few of the Elite teams a run for their money.
MH: How do you feel the season will play out for you and the Lightning?
GM: We will be up there that is for sure. The quality that runs all the way through our team is probably the best we have ever had. Every line can put up good numbers. From what I have seen so far, the league title will be between 4 teams and I hope we can come out on top!