GLENDALE -- Paul Bissonnette enjoys his role with the Coyotes - on and off the ice - and is eager to re-sign with the team.
After spending the past five seasons with Phoenix, Bissonnette is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
"I love it here," Bissonnette said, "I bought a house here so I’d be very happy to stay."
|Photo by Dave Vest. |
Without question, captain Shane Doan is the face of the franchise and has been for more than a decade. He’s the first one to answer questions from the media after a big win or a crucial defeat, and the line for his autograph at team functions is always the longest by far.
But Bissonnette also is popular and he plays a key role when it comes to the team relating with fans. It’s a joy for him because, as he has said many times, if he wasn’t playing in the NHL he’d be one of them.
"I think a lot of fighters, per se, in the League have that fan favorite kind of role because they don’t play as much so they can spend more time interacting with them," Bissonnette said. "I don’t mind socializing with people. It’s part of it but I enjoy it, too."
That’s not just talk. For example, as he does every season, Bissonnette hosted 100 guests from the Central Arizona Shelter Services (C.A.S.S.) at the Coyotes game played against the Montreal Canadiens on March 6 at Jobing.com Arena. Bissonnette sponsored the guests' tickets, transportation and food/beverage, and then did a meet and greet with them after the game.
Bissonnette, of course, is one of the more popular NHL players with regards to Twitter; he currently has more than 527,000 "followers" and counting at @BizNasty2point0. He's very active on the social media platform because it gives him the opportunity to connect with the fans who admire him – and playfully joust with those who don’t. Those who follow his tweets get to see his interest in current events, his sense of humor and his sensitivity.
Aside from being a Twitter star, Bissonnette also is known and loved for his on-ice fighting. But, worth noting, he received only three fighting penalties in 39 games last season.
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
"This year was kind of a transition year where fighting was down again," Bissonnette said. "It’s even to the point now where you don’t go into games (thinking) 'I’ve got to get my fight in and then play.' Now it’s 'I’m going to play and if something happens, it happens.' I thought I did a good job of adapting to that."
Like he does with fans, Bissonnette connects with teammates because of his positive attitude toward his role on the team. When he plays, he stands up for them after they absorb big hits on the ice, and on the nights he doesn’t play he offers moral support to them in the locker room – often times in a fun, lighthearted fashion to keep them loose. In addition, his role as locker-room DJ and as host of the team's annual Super Bowl prediction video are legendary.
Bissonnette set a career-high with eight points in 2013-14 and he reached the 200th NHL Game milestone on March 25 vs. Pittsburgh, the team that drafted him 121st overall in 2003. He also tied his career-high in assists (six), shots on goal (25) and plus/minus rating (+6).
"It was kind of a steppingstone this year, putting up some more numbers offensively and getting some more minutes when I did play," Bissonnette said. "…It felt good confidence-wise."