His signing as a free agent with the Dallas Stars may have been overlooked by the majority of hockey fans, but the club is confident that its quiet acquisition of defenseman Adam Pardy
on July 1 will end up having a significant impact on the club’s fortunes.
At 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, the 27-year-old Pardy, who played the last three seasons with the Calgary Flames, is solid defensively with a bit of a physical touch and should be a nice addition to the Stars’ blueline. As an added bonus, Pardy has a prior working relationship with recently-hired Dallas head coach Glen Gulutzan and all parties acknowledged that connection was important.
“Adam is a hard-working player who we feel adds a lot to our defensive corps,” Nieuwendyk said. “He will be a good fit among our blueliners. Adam has a history with Glen Gulutzan and that certainly was a factor with this signing.”
“After things were going down in Calgary, it started looking like they weren’t going to bring me back and you start looking around at other teams you could fit in and Dallas came up,” said Pardy, who suited up for just 30 games in 2010-11 due to two separate shoulder injuries. “The coach that was just hired, I played for him in the ECHL and I know him and I know what kind of guy he is and we had a great relationship, and come July 1st, when they made an offer, I jumped at it. I’m very excited to be coming there.”
Following his injury-shortened season, in which Pardy registered one goal and seven points with a +3 plus/minus rating, he was mildly surprised that he was sought after so quickly by the Stars once he officially became an unrestricted free agent.
“I guess I was surprised it was early in the day,” said Pardy who earned $700,000 last year in Calgary and signed a two-year deal worth $2 million per season. “But the contract that came at me was something I couldn’t turn down, but it wasn’t just the money or anything. I really feel like Dallas is a good fit for me, looking at the players there, and especially the coach, knowing what he brings. And also playing against Dallas, they’re always a team that we took notice, they’re a tough team to play against. I’m very excited to be working with this group. I’ve heard a lot about it, that it’s a great group to work with and a lot of younger guys, so it’s going to be fun. I can’t wait to get there.”
In Calgary, Pardy averaged 14:41 of ice time last season, and also recorded 42 hits and 44 blocked shots, while the Flames were 17-8-5 with him in the lineup. He is looking forward to a bit more responsibility in Dallas, where he should provide the Stars with another big body who can defend well and make a good first pass out of his own zone, as well as some penalty killing prowess.
“I’m very hard-working,” said Pardy, who logged 36 seconds of short-handed ice time per contest last season and 1:08 in 57 games in 2009-10. “I know my stats, there’s not a lot of goals or anything there, so who knows what to expect there, but I’m just going to try to be a good two-way player. Defensively is the biggest thing, making sure I’m taking care of my own end and then trying to make plays out of my own zone. I’ve been working on my skating over the last couple of years and it’s getting better. You can’t hold guys up or do anything (to impede forwards) now, that’s a big thing, like trying to escape and trying to make plays out of my own zone and trying to create the offense from the back end. I know I’m not going to lead too many rushes, but just being a part of it and being a hard player to play against is what I need to bring.
“Talk about penalty kill, play more minutes against the top two lines is where I want to be and is what I’m going to work to be in Dallas and really bring in something physical and be really hard to play against.”
Playing under Gulutzan, who has also espoused the virtues of being a strong two-way team that is hard to play against, should bring out the best in Pardy. As a rookie pro back in 2005-06, Pardy skated 41 regular season and 10 playoff games at ECHL Las Vegas for Gulutzan. That experience developed an enduring connection between the two that ultimately helped lure Pardy to Dallas.
“He brings a lot of fun to the game,” Pardy said of his new coach. “He believes that you’ve got to be happy coming to the rink every day and you’ve got to enjoy this game. You can’t worry about the stress of everything, and if you lose a bad game, you’ve got to wake up the next day and play again. If there’s something you’ve got to get over, you’ve got to get over it quick. He believes in having fun and playing an exciting game and playing hard. He expects a lot and he expects everyone to have fun doing it. It’s always fun when you have a coach, a leader like that, knowing that the attitude is, ‘Let’s just go play hockey. Yeah, we’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to lose games, but we’re going to work hard and we’re going to enjoy it.’”
Apparently, Gulutzan endorsed Pardy just as enthusiastically and that was enough to convince Nieuwendyk to make an offer.
“We talked to Gully about Adam Pardy
leading up to this,” Nieuwendyk acknowledged. “Adam has been on our radar for quite some time, as an up-and-coming player, with the arrow pointing up in his game. He’s had some injuries, but he’s feeling good and healthy. There was some familiarities there.”
As for Pardy’s injury status, Nieuwendyk is correct - the big blueliner insists that the shoulder troubles he encountered last year are behind him and that he will be ready to go once training camp starts in September.
“It’s feeling great,” said Pardy, a native of Bonavista, Newfoundland in Canada who played three years of junior at Cape Breton of the QMJHL. “It’s been a long time, the surgery was back in February, so it’s been about five months now. It’s feeling great, I haven’t had an issue with it this far. Doctors originally said six months, so give it another month until I’m technically cleared to play, but I could play right now. It’s been feeling good, I’ve been working out with no restrictions. I’ve done everything, I’ve been golfing a lot and it’s been feeling fine, so there’s no issue there.”
And Pardy doesn’t anticipate any problems with the dramatic shift in climate that he will experience, moving from the harsh winters of Alberta to the lingering heat of North Texas.
“I guess no snow is going to be the biggest thing, with the change in weather and everything,” said Pardy, who was originally Calgary’s sixth-round selection (173rd overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. “So it’ll be a little different, but it’s part of the game and I’m looking forward to being there and focusing on hockey.”
So are the Stars.