WINNIPEG -- Jay Pandolfo grew up as a Bruins fan while blossoming into a bona fide Massachusetts hockey stud playing for Burlington High School and Boston University.
So its a special kind of pride for the 38-year-old local product as he makes his Boston Bruins debut Sunday afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre in place of Milan Lucic.
I havent played a game in a while so Ill be a little anxious. But once you settle down it will be fine, said Pandolfo. Anytime you grow up somewhere watching a team your whole life its special when you get a chance to play for themyou take a little extra pride in it. Im appreciative that I have this chance and Im looking forward to it.
The former New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders winger hasnt played an NHL game in roughly nine months, and wasnt sure if this day would come again coming out of the lockout. He skated with the Bruins for over a month on a professional tryout agreement before signing a one-year deal with Boston earlier this week, and will get his opportunity after Lucic had to leave the team for personal reasons.
Pandolfo will skate on the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton while Daniel Paille moves up in the lineup. Nobody should expect much offensively from a guy that totaled three points in 60 plus games for the Isles last season, and his coach expects him to keep things simple as a longtime veteran would in this particular situation.
It goes without saying that youll keep an eye on him, but hes been through this enough times that hell know how to handle his shifts, said Claude Julien, who previously coached Pandolfo in New Jersey. Hell keep things short, and hes a smart player thats been in this league a long time. So I dont think youll see anythingstupid, if I can use that termcoming out of his game.
He never gave up. We certainly never guaranteed him anything. We thought he could be a possibility, but he kept a great attitude and he slipped in there easily with his teammates. Hes a guy that gives us some really reliable depth.
Pandolfo may get some penalty killing time, but otherwise probably wont play much more than five or six minutes in his Boston debut. But thats more than enough for the two-time Stanley Cup that wondered openly if his NHL career was over when he didnt have a roster spot guaranteed coming out of the lockout.
Instead he found the perfect situation with the Bruins after patiently waiting for it to materialize, and that era in his career begins Sunday in Winnipeg.