With the HBK Line's success (which involved getting a sandwich at Primanti's named after them, a WWE championship belt and having Shawn Michaels himself come to a game), the Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi goal calls and everything else that happened in the playoffs, Nick Bonino became somewhat of a cult figure in Pittsburgh during the Pens' Stanley Cup championship run.
What people may not know about him is that Bonino, who Ben Lovejoy called "just an awesome teammate," is one of the most intelligent, quick-witted guys in the locker room and has a fantastic dry sense of humor. Get to know more about the 28-year-old Connecticut native here.
1. His grandparents are his biggest fans.
Bonino is incredibly close with his maternal grandparents, Jim and Nina Orsini, who are both in their 90s. Bonino's most cherished memory from the playoff run is cooking their famous tuna fish and angel hair pasta for them to eat out of the Stanley Cup. He also loved that President Barack Obama gave them a shout out when the team visited the White House. "They're my biggest fans," Bonino said. "Called them from the ice after we won, all that stuff. Just pretty cool they were along on the journey with me."
2. His wife Lauren is also a hockey player, and the two of them met when they were both freshmen athletes at Boston University.
"We lived in the same dorm, three floors away," Bonino said. "I walked her to class the first day of classes. We met in the dining room and we started dating November of that year. She's great."
3. He says Lauren is a much better skater than him.
"She's from Alberta, Canada, and definitely tells me when I do stuff that isn't right on the ice," Bonino said. "She'll tell me things and she knows what she's talking about. I listen to her."
4. The two of them used Google to pick a name for their daughter, Maisie.
"We googled a ton of names and it stuck out right away," he said. "It was a nickname for Margaret back in the day, and we just thought it was a really pretty name. Once we had that one, nothing else really compared to it."
5. The thing he loves the most about being a father is all the love that comes with it.
"She's super interactive now and it's funny, she's past that stage where you can hold her and she's still for you," Bonino said. "When she was in that stage, I wanted her to be moving and active. Now that that's passed, I miss it. It's fun when she's up in the morning to go grab her from her crib and change the diaper, do all those little things. It's the best."
6. He listens to three radio stations.
"Country, Hits 1 and hip hop," he laughed. "Pretty much any of them. I just listen to the radio; I don't have any music on my iPhone. I just listen to it when I'm in the car or in the locker room. (Brian Dumoulin) is the DJ here, so he has pretty good songs." Though there is one song in particular he loves, Fetty Wap's Trap Queen. "It's the best song ever," Bonino said. "And then this year, Commas by Future is a great song. But bad words."
7. He thinks Curb Your Enthusiam is pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
"It's my favorite show of all time," Bonino said. "I think it's so well written and put together and Larry David is unbelievable. That's my favorite. Right now, Designated Survivor is pretty good. That just came out. Kiefer Sutherland is back in the White House."
8. He claims he only watches the Bachelor and the Bachelorette because Lauren does - but he is a fan of the show that spoofs the franchise.
"My wife watches it and I just watch sometimes. And laugh along, because it's silly to me," Bonino said. "Actually, you know what show's awesome that's a guilty pleasure is UnReal. It's a spoof of the Bachelor but it's really good." Bonino also likes Scandal.
9. If anyone wants to play cards with him, Phil Kessel and Chris Kunitz on the team plane, there's an open spot.
It was left vacant by former Pens goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, who signed with Los Angeles during the offseason. "I don't know who's going to fill that spot," Bonino said. "There's an open tryout. We'll come to terms with somebody."
10. HBK = BFFs.
When I asked Bonino who his closest friends in the league were, he immediately replied, "Phil and Haggy" with a big grin on his face. However, while Bonino does love those guys, it's actually St. Louis defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk who was the best man at his wedding. "Cam Atkinson and Cam Fowler were also in my wedding and Kyle Palmieri was my roommate in Syracuse, so good buddies with him."
11. Bonino had a scholarship to play lacrosse in college after starring in high school. Instead, he chose to play hockey at Boston University.
"That's what I really miss, is lacrosse," he said. "It was a lot of fun. There's some alumni games in the summers at Avon Old Farms, but I try to stay away. Just the injury risk is too much. Maybe when I'm done with hockey I'll play a little bit." Bonino also played soccer his whole life. "I'm actually a really fast runner," he said. "I don't know what the deal is, our trainer says I have a long femur so I can run well. I started at striker and then I was midfield; and then in high school at Avon I played fullback."
12. He would love to get a golf lesson from Rory McIlroy.
"I really like Rory a lot, especially after the Ryder Cup," Bonino said. "I loved how him and Patrick Reed went after each other there. I think they're all so good, I have so much respect for them, especially playing as much as I do in the summers. Any of those top guys are great. I know I'd love to be able to do what they do. Be a lot less injury and a lot less pucks hitting me. If any of them want to give me a lesson I'd love for a lesson from any of those guys."
13. Bonino feels humbled by what happened during the playoffs.
Especially when it comes to HBK. "It's something I never expected to happen," he said. "It was like a tale of two teams, two seasons last year and just waited for an opportunity. I felt that all three of us kind of ran with it. It was a lot of fun with those two and the city and the fans were the reason obviously that that took off and I'll always be thankful for that, because they were very supportive, very loud and made the playoffs a lot more fun."