Reinvigorated by a youthful locker room and ‘hometown’ crowd, Newfoundland’s own Adam Pardy leads on and off the ice for the surging Newfoundland Growlers
Adam Pardy doesn’t need the old song and dance about a new franchise, a new club, new locker room. He’s been there, done that, and has a closet full of jerseys.
No, Pardy is what we call battle-tested. He’s a grizzled vet who has logged serious minutes across the National Hockey League, American Hockey League and Swedish Hockey League, to name a few stops along the way.
He has suited up for six NHL clubs, becoming a reliable third-string d-man with stints in Winnipeg, Buffalo, Dallas and Calgary of note.
Now he finds himself in a familiar, yet exponentially elevated role as locker room leader. Add in provincial hero to the mix, and the 35-year-old Bonavista native has plenty to play for in his debut season with the Newfoundland Growlers, a club who have defied expectations to open their inaugural ECHL season with a commendable 22-11-1 record.
“I think we’re fortunate,” Pardy shared in between practices. “We have a good group here that’s eager to learn, who are really accepting and really taking in – soaking in – all the information that has been given with (Coach) Ryane here and the type of system we’re playing. He was a formidable player and he’s really smart and he knows how to win games and he knows how to outwork and out-compete teams too. The guys have really soaked in everything, they’ve bought into our system and playing a team game.
“It’s been, I don’t want to say easy, but it hasn’t been a struggle for us,” he adds. “I think as the year goes on we’ll face adversity at times, I’m sure we’ll lose and that’s just the nature of the game and the nature of this league that we may lose some guys and our team will change, but we’ve tried to set a certain standard early in the year about our culture on and off the ice. Any new guy that comes in they’re going to be held to the same standard.”
That system that has so many of the teams young guns like Brady Ferguson, Marcus Power, Scott Pooley and newly minted All-Star Giorgio Estephan firing on all cylinders has clearly set a fire under #2. Pardy has tallied five points in nine games since suiting up for the Growlers back in December, including a rare and welcome three point, two goal effort last night against Maine.
He’s relishing his current chance at performing at an elite level, giving to a young club as much as he’s taking back, reignited through his reps with a locker room of hungry prospects and veterans alike.
“Our young guys have been some of our best players,” Pardy admits. “There’s things about the game as a rookie you’ve gotta learn, that everyday kind of mindset, never wavering. If you look at some of our back-to-backs we’d be really good in one game and kind of come off a little bit, whether it be the first or second game of a little series. There’s many things that a young guy can learn of everyday pro life.
“Fourteen years in it, those things become natural. That’s all you’re trying to teach these guys, that second nature. Things become automatic, certain things and details of how you prepare for the game, how you prepare for practice and how you prepare off the ice. What are you doing to your body, what are you doing to make yourself better.”
The 14-year vet has no delusions of grandeur about who he is at this stage of his career. He can still perform at a high level, as evident by recent games, but he knows that the next phase of his hockey life beckons in the not-so-distant-future. That future runs directly through his home-province, where he aims to create a long and lasting impact.
“That’s one of the reasons I’m here right now, to be a part of that, to be a part of this organization and work my way back up,” he says. “You never want to leave this game. It has been a part of my life since I was three years old. You don’t want to say too much, but it’s definitely a part of the process. It’s why I’m here, I want to be involved in this team. We’re going to focus on this year and making us successful on the ice and where it goes from there we’ll decide that once the season is over.”
Pardy is eager to help bolster an already hot hockey market in Newfoundland and Labrador, a province that has produced such champions and prominent names as Cleary, Ryder, Druken and now young guns Bishop and Fitzpatrick, among others.
He wants away teams to shudder at the thought of facing a gritty, exhausting team on the ice, and a riotously spirited fan base in the stands.
“We need the crowd to get a little louder. I will say that,” Pardy admits as a direct message to Growlers fans. “We want this to be the hardest place to play in the league so when teams come in here they can’t expect an easy night. They’re going to expect a hard game, a heavy game and a fan base that is going to be all over them. Just make it hard on them, hard on them to play and come in here and that’s what we’re trying to create.”