BRYAN WILSON – 08.15.2023
After back-to-back AHL seasons in which he’s posted career numbers, Mitch McLain says he still has plenty left to prove.
The 29-year-old is heading into his second season with the Wranglers after posting a career-high in points (28) last season, adding 16 goals and 108 penalty minutes. McLain appeared in 56 regular season games in 2022-23, which is a tally he’d like to build upon this year, and as he prepares for the upcoming campaign, he is focused on being a more consistent and impactful player for Calgary.
“On a personal level, last year it was building up from the year before, and I’ve had a career year a couple years in a row,” explained McLain. “One of the big things I pride myself on is being a guy that can play every night. I think getting back to that consistency as a player and being a guy that the team can rely on every single night to do a hard job, that’s definitely a goal for me.
“I also want to build off my training camp from last year with the Calgary Flames,” he added. “I don’t want to just be a one-hit wonder with that, I really want to make a good impression on them.”
One intangible McLain brings to any locker room is his leadership ability. He’s worn a ‘C’ on his sweater on multiple occasions throughout his career, back in junior with Langley (BCHL) and in his final year with Bowling Green (NCAA). Being able to set the tone for younger players and help them find their way in the pro game is something that ‘Moose’ – as he’s known around the rink – prides himself on.
“I can help contribute to the team in different ways and that’s something I’ve taken a lot of pride in throughout my career. I think it’s a reason that I’ve gotten opportunities that maybe other guys haven’t,” said McLain.
“That leadership piece is something that keeps you around,” he continued. “I think it’s your responsibility, as you grow through the league and as you go through hard things, to work with the younger guys that come in who maybe haven’t seen the pro hockey side or the hurdles you have to go through.
“When you’re in the room, especially being a vocal guy in the room, if you’re saying the right things and doing the right things, it goes a long way.”
Wherever he’s been in his career, McLain has made a lasting impact on the local community, as well. His influence off the ice is undeniably evident in the reaction and engagement from fans all over North America, who never shy away from expressing their love for Moose every chance they get, whether at games or commenting online.
“I’ve been very blessed, everywhere I’ve been, to be able to connect with people and build relationships with fans,” said McLain. “I think, sometimes, that relationship has kind of a line in the sand when it comes to pro sports. I’ve been very fortunate to find some great people along the way that have supported me wherever I’ve gone and I’m so appreciative that I have those relationships with people, and it makes playing the game a lot more fun.”