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On the Brink: Pat Cannone Hopes to Impress

Coming off career year with AHL's Chicago Wolves, Cannone attempts to build on success

by Devin Lowe /

The stark reality of training camp is this: it begins every year with 60 players and ends with 25.

For a team like the Wild with few spots to spare after it kept its roster mostly intact through the summer, that can be tough to swallow.

Pat Cannone is no stranger to camp cutdowns. This year's camp is the sixth of his career and first with the Wild organization, which signed him to a one-year, two-way contract on July 1. Though he's familiar with the process, he approaches it with confidence rather than resignation.

"Obviously, they scouted you and signed you for a reason," Cannone said. "Just kind of stick to what you know to do and go from there."

Cannone, 30, has spent his entire career in the American Hockey League. For the past six years, he's put up solid numbers with the Ottawa Senators' affiliate, the Binghampton Senators, and the Chicago Wolves, farm club of the St. Louis Blues.

Last season was a career year for Cannone. Serving as Chicago's captain, he led the team with 32 assists and 52 points. His crowning on-ice moment last year came in the inaugural AHL All-Star Challenge when he scored a hat trick to lead the Central Division to victory and secured the game's MVP award.

"The All Star game was great, being part of that, mingling with other guys around the league and just having fun for a weekend," Cannone said. "It was a great honor to be a part of that. It was something I'll never forget."

But what he takes the most pride in is receiving the Chicago Wolves' Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award, given annually to the player who demonstrates outstanding commitment to community service in the Chicago area. His "Pistol's Pals" and "Wolves Wish" initiatives brought young pediatric cancer patients and Wolves fans facing adversity to home games, where he would take time after games to sign autographs, take pictures and simply talk.

"The Man of the Year Award really meant a lot to me," Cannone said. "Dan Snyder was a great role model in that organization and community, and just to be mentioned in the same breath as him is a real honor. I was really happy about that."

A big reason Cannone signed with the Wild was so he could continue in the mentoring role he embraced so readily in Chicago. The latest chance will likely come with a young core in Iowa, but Cannone's goal remains to someday make an NHL roster.

"Iowa's got a great group of young players that are on the up and coming," Cannone said. "I'm just trying to help mentor those young guys down there and do whatever I can to try and make the club here."

Even though more than half the players who attend training camp won't make the opening night roster, Cannone has enough experience to know that roster is fluid. Injuries, trades or any other unexpected circumstance in Minnesota could make a player's phone ring down in Iowa.

And if he gets the call, he'll be ready.

"I don't sweat the little things too much anymore," Cannone said. "I just kind of focus on what I need to do. … Take it day by day and work hard and make a good impression, learn from other guys and learn from the staff. Things will take care of themselves, and if you stay positive and do those things, hopefully those things work in your favor."

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