Life in the NHL can begin anew at 30, at least for Winnipeg Jets defenceman Adam Pardy.
After 58 games this season Pardy has five assists, is a plus three and logging upwards of 18 minutes a night.
“I think it’s gone in the right direction, where I definitely wanted it to go” he said this week of his first season with the Jets.
He never has been an offensive defenceman who posted big numbers. But his responsible style seems to be what the Jets need and the 6-foot-4, 220-pound native of Bonavista, Nfld., brings some much-needed size to Winnipeg’s blueline.
“This year it’s been an interesting year,” he said. “From sitting out 15 games in a row, being a healthy scratch, to now playing some minutes and finally getting my game going.”
Pardy has had more than his share of hard luck since turning pro in 2005 and admits there were times when he wondered if he would continue.
“It doesn’t go back to the start of this year, it goes back to the day I left Calgary and when I blew my shoulder out and went to Dallas and things just didn’t go well,” he said.
“You start thinking that you’re not good enough and it’s really tough to play and I think that’s where I was a while back . . . last year and the year before. Confidence is a tough thing to get, and once you lose it it’s hard to get back.”
Drafted by the Calgary Flames in the sixth round in 2004, he turned professional in 2005 and began the season with Calgary’s AHL affiliate. It wasn’t a great start, and he soon found himself in the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL.
After his play improved he went back to the AHL and made his NHL debut in the Flames’ season opener in 2008.
He finished his second NHL season with two goals and seven assists in 57 games but a separated shoulder caused him to miss the first two months of the 2010-11 season. He missed the last two months as well because of injury.
The following season as a free agent, he signed a two-year, US$4-million contract with the Dallas Stars but started on injured reserve list and ended up playing only 36 games before being traded to Buffalo.
Once again, Pardy split the lockout-abbreviated season between the NHL and AHL, and this season Winnipeg became his fourth team in four seasons when he signed a US$600,000 one-year deal. He also had to clear waivers and spent some time with Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s.
“It’s never an easy thing to deal with, being set down to the minors,” Pardy said. “Pretty much every player has to deal with something like that as some point in their career. You learn from it and take whatever you can out of it to make yourself better the next day.”
An injury to Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg’s No. 1 draft pick in 2012 and one of their star rookies this season, saw Pardy brought back after only a few games. He says, in some ways, he’s had to go back to that nervous kid who suited up for the first time with the Flames as he rebuilds his game.
“As every game’s gone on, I feel a little more comfortable with the puck, a little more confident.”
Pardy also became the focus of attention for Winnipeg fans when he had his helmet ripped off by a Chicago fan after he was checked through the glass at the United Center, then had a beer poured over his head.
“It’s tough enough to get put through the glass, but then to get a beer thrown on my head, too, not a good thing,” he said at the time.
A radio host tried to promote a “helmet Pardy” and get fans to wear helmets when Chicago next visited Winnipeg but Jets co-owner Mark Chipman killed the stunt.
For his part, Pardy not only kept his cool when he was subjected to the beer shower, he says he’s tried to stop worrying about his future.
“You stay patient, you stay confident and good things are going to happen and you know what, if not, then there’s a lot more to life than just hockey,” he said.