BostonBruins.com - For nearly a month, Burlington, Massachusetts native Jay Pandolfo has been skating alongside the Bruins at practices, getting to know them better on and off the ice, and meshing so well that it seems like he's been with the team for seasons, not just weeks.
On Tuesday afternoon, the 17-year NHL veteran officially became a Bruin.
Pandolfo had been with the B's on a Professional Tryout Agreement since the start of training camp on January 13, and General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced prior to the game against the New York Rangers that the forward had been signed to a one-year, two-way contract. Pandolfo had to be placed on waivers - and on Wednesday afternoon, he cleared the technicality and is officially a member of the Bruins.
"He's going to bring us some depth, obviously his role int he last couple of years has been penalty kill and fourth line speed - savvy, veteran savvy - so he'll have the same role with us," Chiarelli told media regarding the transaction, before agreeing with a reporter who suggested Pandolfo might be like an older Daniel Paille.
"That's a good comparison," he said. "And he killed penalties, a really good skater and smart player."
"And again, being a little proactive because with the condensed schedule, there's going to be these nagging little injuries and we want to be prepared for them."
"Just to see him fit in with the team, the chemistry is important," added Chiarelli. "When you just talk to him you can see it in his character."
The seasoned vet has 881 career NHL games to his pedigree with the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders, that includes 100 goals and 126 assists, along with with 131 Stanley Cup playoff games and his name etched twice on Lord Stanley, with the Devils in 2000 and 2003.
"They have plenty of guys here, they won a Stanley Cup with almost the whole roster still intact.These guys know what it takes to win, but the more experience you have it helps," Pandolfo told BostonBruins.com on the veteran leadership he could contribute to the team. "I hope to just seamlessly fit in and do the best I can."
The 38-year-old certainly didn't have to prove his high level of character and hard work, but when he stayed with the B's - without a paycheck - it showed dividends about not only the player that he is, but the teammate that he is.
"It says a lot. Probably more to you guys because I know him well, and for me, that's just the way he is and it's not surprising to me that he's like that," Coach Julien had told media following the Bruins' practice on February 4, on Pandolfo staying without the team on a Professional Tryout Agreement.
"He's happy to be around, he's always been a good team guy, and probably was one of the good leaders and good team guys in New Jersey when I was there," added Coach Julien, who coached Pandolfo when he was with New Jersey from 2006-07. "That certainly helped in bringing him here."
"You know what you're getting, and you know what he can bring. I know for a fact that his teammates here in Boston in the dressing room really like him also. That's just the way he is. He's always been that way, and I guess that's his personality and his trait that's made him such a great player throughout his career."
Pandolfo was certainly happy to be with the team, and was never frustrated with his situation of being on the tryout agreement.
"The communication was great with Claude and Peter. They were talking to me every week to keep me updated on what was going on," said Pandolfo. "I was having fun coming to the rink everyday - it was good, and I got to know these guys pretty well."
Now that the Massachusetts native - who not surprisingly grew up a big Bruins fan and spent four years down Comm Ave playing for Boston University from 1992-96 - is officially with the team, the reality of the dreamlike situation is starting to kick in.
"It still really hasn’t sunk in," said Pandolfo, who has been wearing the spoked-B in practice, but will be waiting for the first time he can suit up in a game. "I think until I play my first game, that’s when it will really sink in. It will mean a lot, I’ll take pride in playing for this team, being from here and watching them my whole life. I’m really excited about it."
"Growing up watching the Bruins and then all the success they’ve had lately. Getting to know these guys lately, skating with them in the summer time, I just know what type of organization it is, the chance they have to win a Stanley Cup."
"Couldn’t be a better situation for me to be apart of."
The former BU Terrier had skated with a dozen of the B's throughout the summer and during the work stoppage at Boston University, before seamlessly transitioning onto the team - though not in the "official" capacity.
"Obviously I’ve been skating with them every day, but now to be officially apart of the team means a lot. I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be fun."
--Caryn Switaj ^CS
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