GLENDALE - It's no secret that Paul Bissonnette ranks high among the fan favorites who have played for the Coyotes over the years. With that in mind, the team has asked him to start his post-hockey playing career as its radio analyst/ambassador for this season.
"I'm extremely ecstatic," Bissonnette said of his new gig. "It's nice to be wanted and I really like Arizona. Phoenix is a place I saw myself living even if I hadn't gotten this job. I played in the NHL there for five years, and with the connections I made with the people in the organization and in the community, this makes sense."
Bissonnette played 187 games for the Coyotes from 2009-14. He was the team's enforcer during that time and because of that, and his honest and colorful Twitter persona, many fans adored him despite his limited ice time. The Coyotes believe he will be a hit with the fans again in his new, off-the-ice role with the team.
Per the press release announcing his hiring, Bissonnette will join veteran Play-by-Play Announcer Bob Heethuis in the booth as the team's radio color analyst for Arizona Sports 98.7 FM and be a regular guest on all Coyotes pre-and post-game shows on FOX Sports Arizona.
"What I'm most excited about is I love chatting about hockey and breaking down the plays," Bissonnette said. "I think that's why I'll be a good color guy. I'm guessing some people might say 'Well, how does this guy know, he wasn't any good' or 'If he knows all this stuff about hockey why didn't he just do it on the ice?' But I found I learned a lot not only by sitting in the middle of the bench for most of the game and watching at ice level, but by constantly absorbing everything around me. Most of the guys can't do that because they're playing 20 minutes a game and have to worry about themselves. But me, I'd always pay attention and ask guys, 'Hey, why did you do that?' or 'What was the purpose of that play?' and they would usually answer me and explain it and I'd be like, 'Wow, that's pretty smart.'"
As an ambassador for the Coyotes, Bissonnette will participate in the team's community outings and fan development events. In other words, whenever the team is visiting a hospital or a school, or staging a golf tournament or hockey clinic, 'Biz' will be there shaking hands, giving high-fives and hugs, posing for photos and promoting the team and the sport.
"I like that I also get to be in that ambassador role," Bissonnette said. "I love talking to hockey fans, about themselves and about the game, and I've always been someone who likes to talk to strangers. That's not a problem for me and I think it will help me in this job."
Fans can also expect to see Bissonnette starring in fun web videos at ArizonaCoyotes.com and on the team's various social media platforms, including Twitter. Bissonnette is a Twitter legend as @BizNasty2point0; more than 1 million people follow him.
Bissonnette, 32, last played pro hockey just last season for the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League. His participation was limited to only 18 games because of not one, but two torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
"I wouldn't say I was forced into retirement but last season was very challenging for me physically and I'm still dealing with that," Bissonnette said. "Even if I wanted to keep playing hockey, I'd have to take off this entire season and at my age that's a lot of time to take off. So, I think this job with the Coyotes is a great opportunity for me to jump right into a media role without being thrown right into the fire. I can learn a lot of things, not only from 'Heeter' but from doing it and listening to others who have been in that role critique my work. And then, who knows? Maybe it will go somewhere. Then again, maybe it won't. Either way, it should be a lot of fun."