With 14 jerseys hanging in his closet marking all the professional hockey teams Adam Pardy has suited up for, one could wonder why a 34-year-old with 350 NHL games to his name would even entertain, let alone signing in the ECHL, the league where he started his career 13 years ago.
It didn’t take him long to respond with “because it’s home”.
“I’m still getting used to the weather here this time of year again though”, he laughed. “At the end of the day you can add a bunch of things up as to why I signed here, but I just wanted to play hockey and I wanted to play it here”.
Another one of those things was being familiar with Growlers Head Coach Ryane Clowe and knowing his work ethic.
“I’ve known Clowie for years when we used to work out together and just seeing his drive impacted everyone else to go harder”, he recalled. “He’s always been at a different level and that’s great for these young guys”.
Clowe says there was never any concern of the transition with Pardy from friends to being his coach.
“We’re still good friends, that won’t change”, said the first-year head coach. “Obviously, there’s a coach-player relationship, and we talked a lot about that before he signed here. I was honest about what I expected, but he’s been great so far”.
On the ice, it was a frustrating start to the season for the Bonavista native. A concussion that occurred last season while playing for Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League flared up just before the start of Growlers training camp in September, but he never considered walking away from the game.
“Going through the injury like I did was even more reason to consider just hanging them (skates) up, but you want go to out on your own terms”, said the veteran defenseman. “It’s not easy to just walk away from the game”.
Players are often asked how they adjust to moving up a level after being recalled from the ECHL to AHL, or AHL to NHL, but in Pardy’s case he went down a few steps on the professional hockey ladder, being only two seasons removed from the NHL where he suited up for the Nashville Predators. Despite this, the veteran defenseman hasn’t made any changes to his approach.
“It’s still hockey. Different levels, different players, it’s all the same. They’re a lot younger now though”, he joked. “It’s still a puck and you’re still skating on ice so your job doesn’t change”.
One thing is for certain though - he does miss about the glitz and glamour of the NHL lifestyle.
“I certainly miss those planes”, he said laughing, referring to the private planes NHL teams use for travelling. “You know what to expect at this level. Riding the busses obviously isn’t a whole lot of fun, but there’s a different aspect of being at this stage of my career and remembering back to when I was riding the busses for the first time”.
The big 6’4, 227-pound defenseman has been known as a stay-at-home guy all his career, but he has chipped in offensively this season with eight points through 15 games. Despite this, his biggest asset to the Growlers might be how he can help off the ice, and the advice he can give to players fresh out of junior or college who are transitioning into their first professional season.
“There’s waves of the season where times get busy and you have to chip in and put in extra work to make sure you’re prepared”, he explained. “It’s fun helping them out though. When I came through the minors I had a ton of guys willing to help me out and offer the same advice I’m trying to pass on”.
And while he’s enjoying his time as a Newfoundland Growler, Adam Pardy isn’t naïve – he knows he’s in the home stretch of his professional playing days. However, he finds being at the end just as rewarding.
“Knowing that some of these guys are going to be in the NHL some day and trying to pick them out yourself in your head is fun”, he admitted. “I’m always looking around trying to figure out who’s going to make it and the type of career they can have”.
It certainly sounds like he has a little bit of the coaching bug in him, to which Growlers Head Coach Ryane Clowe agrees.
“No question – I see Adam as a guy being able to get into coaching when his playing days are done”, said Clowe. “He’s a big part of the leadership group here, and I like to use those guys like Adam as an extension of myself and the coaching staff”.
If there’s one thing Adam Pardy hopes the young pups on Growlers roster take away from him, it’s the best way to advance in the hockey world is by old fashioned hard work.
“Look at the difference between the AHL and NHL and even this league – it’s not much”, he said. “Usually it’s the guys who put the work in day-in, day-out, 365 days of the year. Those are the guys who are in the NHL”.
“Your career will take you places if you’re willing to dig down and put the work in”.