CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island -- Dallas Stars defenseman Adam Pardy’s road to the NHL wasn’t exactly a smooth one. Sometimes it was more like a roller coaster ride, especially his first season as a pro when he was transferred between the AHL and ECHL eleven times.
“Honestly, I never thought I had a chance in hell of making it. I didn’t think I was going to get past the East Coast League,” Pardy said. “I think in the month of March it was six times I was up and down, up for four or five days, down for four or five days. It was pretty intense and the NHL seemed pretty far away.”
That was the 2005-06 season. The ECHL team he spent time with was the Las Vegas Wranglers. The coach back then was Glen Gulutzan, now the head coach of the Dallas Stars. Gulutzan said he and Pardy reminisced recently about a conversation they had at the end of the defenseman’s up and down first pro season.
“There was a time there in Las Vegas when he was our seventh defenseman as a young kid,” Gulutzan said. “In our year end meeting I asked him, ‘Where did you start when you first got here?’ He said, ‘I was probably your worst D.’ I said, ‘Where did you finish?’ and he said, ‘I thought I finished in your top four.’ And he was in our top four by the end of the year. And I told him, “Now that’s the jump you’ve got to make next year in the American League and the year after that you’ve got to make that jump to get into the NHL.’ Lo and behold he has.”
Now the two are together again after Pardy signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the Stars on the first day of free agency this past summer. The Stars like the 27-year-old defenseman because he has size (6-2, 220 pounds) and mobility.
“What he brings us is that big body that can move on the line,” said Gulutzan. “He’s a defender that can get in the way of the shots and he can penalty kill and he can play left or right side. The ability to have a big, mobile young guy like that defend like that is important.”
Pardy likes the Stars because they are a good fit and present him with something that he saw as slipping away in Calgary, where he played the last three seasons.
“It’s an opportunity. Near the end in Calgary it just seemed like things were going nowhere. It was coming to a dead end,” Pardy said. “This is a new opportunity and challenge. It’s going to be fun. New contract, new team. Lot of great guys here and it’s been easy to fit in and adjust. There are a lot of guys my age, whereas in Calgary there were a lot of older guys. I’m excited to get out there and get the opportunity to play. I’ve played for Gully, so there’s that familiarity. It’s a fresh start.”
It’s also a chance for Pardy to bounce back after a rough final season in Calgary, one that ended early due to a shoulder injury. He had surgery in February. Sunday’s scrimmage at the Charlottetown Civic Centre was the first opportunity to put the shoulder to a good test.
“[Sunday] night was the first bumps I’ve taken and it felt great,” said Pardy. “It was nice to be back, it was such a long time since I played a game. It was good to get that feeling back.”
The Stars holding camp in PEI is a homecoming of sorts for Pardy, who was born in Newfoundland and attended Andrews Hockey School in Prince Edward Island as a teenager. The school is now located in the CARI Complex, where the Stars are practicing during their stay in PEI. It was in Summerside, PEI when Pardy attended. Pardy is one of several young players to attend that school and go on to an NHL career.
“It was a good time,” said Pardy. “It’s nice to be back. It’s good to come back east, kind of get that laid back feeling, nice people, good food. It’s been a fun few days here and nice to get things going.”
And get that fresh start underway.