On paper, Jay Pandolfo doesn’t appear like he’d contribute much to this particular Boston Bruins team. Yet, as any champion in any professional sport will tell you, championships are not won on paper. They are won on the ice, in the weight room, and especially the locker room. Pandolfo’s 13-year career, highlighted by two Stanley Cup titles, can be associated with professional toughness and consistency that was often reflected in his Devils rugged style of play. In signing the 38 year-old forward to a one-year deal, the Bruins hope that he can provide that extra push of experience and attitude that could bring another championship banner to the rafters at the TD North Garden.
Despite his age, Pandolfo is the opposite of the poster-child for what you would call the spoiled NHL veterans club. Players such as Sergei Federov, Jaromir Jagr, or Jeremy Roenick were players that came to become synonymous for returning year after year with different teams, only to collect a paycheck and move on. Pandolfo, with the exception of one year with the Islanders, and one year in the Austrian Hockey League, spent his entire career playing for the Devils.
Unlike veterans signing with unfamiliar teams, or players serving as half-season rentals before the end of a contract, Pandolfo is one player who truly can call Boston home. Growing up in Burlington, Massachusetts and attending Boston University (where he ended his prestigious career as Hockey East’s player of the year), Pandolfo has spent the majority of his life playing hockey in the great state of Massachusetts. While some players may consider playing in a new city a hassle, Pandolfo should have extra motivation playing in front of countless friends and family in what will most likely be his final year in the league.
Given his age and decline in production, many Bruins fans must wonder what an old (by NHL standards) fourth liner can bring to a club that is searching for it’s second Stanley Cup in three seasons. The B’s are a young team, and much of their roster has already experienced championship success. Many of these players (Lucic, Marchand, and Seguin) just to name a few, are in earlier phases of their career, and might not have an appreciation for how teams that have the talent to win a title must seize the opportunity. In this new salary cap era, very few teams have the pedigree to be able to say they can compete for a championship every year.
It is in this regard that Pandolfo can most benefit this team. Pandolfo won a Stanley Cup with a 2000 Devils team that had already won in 1994. In just his fourth year in the league, Pandolfo became a valuable addition to a core group of Devils (Martin Broduer, Scott Stevens, Jason Arnott, and Patrick Elias among so many others) that wasn’t satisfied with just the bare minimum. Up until the lockout in 2004, Pandolfo’s Devil’s teams always made the post-season, and wound up winning two Stanley Cups (2000, 2003). Pandolfo knows what it takes to get back to the top of the mountain, which is something, given the right nudge, the Bruins should be able to accomplish.
Pandolfo is the rare NHL Veteran who doesn’t need a captains letter to command respect. While he may not have the gaudy stats of some 15-year players, his playoff and championship resume speaks for itself. Given the Bruins deep lineup of third and fourth line forwards, Pandolfo may only serve as a line-up replacement, but given that injuries are bound to occur in the shortened season, don’t be surprised to see Pandolfo killing the odd penalty, going hard on a forecheck, or even dropping the gloves with a guy twice his size. More importantly, his presence, words, and gravitas off the ice should serve as an everlasting reminder that with a team as talented as the Bruins, settling for anything less that hoisting the Cup isn’t good enough.Tags: Boston, Boston Bruins, Hockey, NHL