For the past podcast episodes, go to NewJerseyDevils.com/podcast
For this episode of the Speak of the Devils podcast, Brian Gionta joined podcast hosts Matt Loughlin and Amanda Stein. Gionta started his NHL career with the Devils in 2001 and spent six years with the organization.
Gionta discussed his transition to his post-playing days as well as what his kids think whenever he discusses his career.
"It's nice to get some love when you're out of the game. My kids are like 'you're going on a Zoom? Who wants to speak to you?'" Joked Gionta about the opportunity to be on the podcast. "I was very fortunate to have a great career that lasted and spanned many years and in different cities and be able to be apart of different things and different cultures. But it's nice now to slow down and try to enjoy the games, not travel so much, not grind it out like I used to."
Gionta's kids were able to see some of his career even though they were fairly young when he retired.
"The eight-year-old was only six at the time when I retired. And my last year really was almost kind of a semi-retirement," said Gionta. "I wish he was able to see a little more or be a part more of the career but the other two for sure. They were dragged around from city to city."
"They're all great life lessons and I wouldn't change a thing. But it's also nice for them to settle down, get their friends, gets their school settled in, and their team sports, all that kind of stuff."
Gionta is from Western New York and discussed why he was relieved he played there later in his career versus at the start.
"I don't think I would have wanted to start my career in Buffalo. The pressure of being in front of family and friends and the pulls that it would have been. It was nice to be there at the end of my career where you can enjoy it," said Gionta.
When discussing the topic of Gionta signing with the Montreal Canadiens after not being able to work out another contract with New Jersey in 2009, he talked about how the opportunity brought him growth.
"It just didn't work out and at the time we were devastated, me and Harvest my wife. We've been in Jersey seven, eight years and loved it. My daughter was born there. So we had a lot of love for New Jersey and it was devastating," said Gionta. "And so we get [to Montreal] and you're out of your comfort zone. And that's when you grow the most as a person. And that's what we learned. There's a huge life lesson for myself, for my kids, and for my wife."
Gionta also discussed the different pressure he felt at the Devils compared to the pressure he felt with the Canadiens.
"New Jersey was all internal pressure, right? It came from the top, it came from Lou," explained Gionta. "We expected to win all the time and we expected to be the best. We expected the best. The pressure was from internally and you go to Montreal, a lot of pressure is from the external world, right? The media, the fans, everything."
"I'm lucky that I grew up in the system in New Jersey because I was prepared for Montreal. The seven, eight years I spent in New Jersey under Lou prepared me to not get caught up in the media stuff, prepared me to not worry about all the exterior noise and kind of internalize things."
Gionta also explained what he learned about Lou Lamoriello that most wouldn't know outside of the organization or working with Lou.
"For me, it was how much he cared about me and my family," said Gionta. "If you work hard for him and you go day in and day out and do the right things, he's going to take care of you for life. So for me, I have a soft spot for Lou because he [allowed] undersized a player from Western New York, I probably wasn't supposed to make the League, and [he] gave me a shot in an era that it wasn't acceptable for small players. So he just giving me that confidence and that shot, I owe a lot to Lou, David Conte, and the organization for trusting that in me. What I learned the most about Lou and the Devils back in the day was their consistency was driven by going in and doing certain things the right way all the time."