This fall, Adam Pardy will be skating for the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers, just 21 months after appearing in the NHL for the Nashville Predators. But don’t think for a moment the defenceman from Bonavista is chagrined about playing for a team in minor hockey’s AA league. He’s actually looking forward to it.There were a number of appealing factors which led to Adam Pardy signing a free agent contract with the Newfoundland Growlers, among them playing for fellow Newfoundlander and head coach Ryane Clowe, and keeping the door open for work in hockey down the road.
But the primary reason for Pardy — he of the 350 National Hockey League games — taking a step back to the ECHL at age 34 was the opportunity to close out his career at home.
Pardy, from Bonavista, inked a one-year deal with the expansion team Friday, making him the fifth player to sign with the Growlers so far.
He joins James Melindy and Marcus Power, both from St. John’s, Latvian Kristians Rubins and Russian Semyon (Sam) Babintsev as Growlers’ signings so far.
The squad is expected to have as many as 10 or a dozen players coming down from Toronto, either from the Maple Leafs or the AHL Marlies.
Zach O’Brien of St. John’s fits into the latter category.
Pardy last played in the NHL two years ago, appearing in four games for the Nashville Predators. He broke in as a 24-year-old defenceman with the 2008-09 Calgary Flames, and also suited up for the Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers, in addition to the Preds.
His contracts during that time totaled around $8 million.
“Playing at home, yeah, that’s a huge part of it. Yes, the fact (Ryane Clowe) is coaching and I still get to play hockey makes it attractive, but playing in front of my friends and family on a new team in Newfoundland should make this season a lot of fun.”
He turned pro in 2005-06, splitting the season between Omaha of the AHL and the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers.
So it seems fitting that he’s come full circle, his contract with the Newfoundland Growlers really and truly a hometown discount.
“Playing at home, yeah, that’s a huge part of it,” he said. “Yes, the fact Clowie is coaching and I still get to play hockey makes it attractive, but playing in front of my friends and family on a new team in Newfoundland should make this season a lot of fun.
“I know my 10-year-old nephew and his buddies are excited.
“There were too many positive things not to sign here.”
While Everett, Washington’s John Snowden is the Growlers’ assistant coach, Pardy — who will be, by far, the veteran voice in the locker room — figures to fill the role of unofficial player-coach.
“I’ve known Clowie a long time, maybe 15 years,” Pardy said of his fellow ex-NHLer, who is taking over the head coaching reigns for the first time following a couple of years as John Hynes’s assistant with the New Jersey Devils.
“We talked a little more about this the last couple of weeks.”
Pardy expects Clowe will bounce a few things off the veteran defenceman throughout the year.
“I hope so,” he said. “I have a lot of experience. This dressing room will have a lot of younger players and I figure to bridge that gap, to make things a bit easier for the coaches.”
Pardy is at the point of his career where it’s year by year. Who knows what will happen next season (the first Growlers’ training camp hasn’t yet started), but this much is certain: he’d like to remain in the game when his playing days are done.
“And that was definitely part of the decision to sign here,” he said, “keeping the door open for something down the road.
“Who knows what could happen if we make this first season a success. I gained a lot of knowledge from what I’ve done the past 15 years, and you always keep your options open.”
The Growlers are slated to open training camp the end of the month at Mile One Centre in St. John’s.