Chicago’s Blackhawks caught a break today, acquiring a good man and loyal soldier at a very reasonable price. Our loss is their gain.
I would argue that Fernando Pisani would have been an exceptional mentor to the new Oilers, just as he was to the last bunch who came through town. Pisani is in a different era of his career than the day after G7 SCF, but surely NHL teams could (and did) see a worthwhile player.
I can also understand the Oilers point of view: a team that has endured countless injuries–and has plenty of the injury prone signed long term–can hardly be blamed for passing on Pisani when his contract is up. It is all water under the bridge today, as Chicago has signed Fernando to a terrific contract (1-way, $500,000). He will no doubt help on the PK, make the transition easier for kids with names like Skille, Bickell and Beach.
During the time that Fernando Pisani laced them up for the Edmonton Oilers, he was never the team’s best player. Never their best forward, never their best right-winger. Why then, do we miss him already?
Because of the character of the man and the splendid way he played the game. I believe the reason we loved Fernando Pisani as an Oiler can be summed up in that one stunning goal he scored in Raleigh those years ago: first forward back as the play left the opposition zone, uses that big brain and moves laterally along their blue and cheats a little hoping for a turnover, and then pure skill with a quick and deadly stick to intercept the pass before it went offside.
And from there, the Hockey Gods turned him into Guy Lafleur just one time and 34 went shelf. It rings as true today as it did those years ago.
After that, health became an issue. He was dealt a bad hand but overcame great odds to return to the game he loved and play it again at the highest level. The NHL passed up a chance to give an award to the right man the season he didn’t win the Masterton, but I’ll always believe he earned it by coming all the way back and playing well.
If the hockey Gods choose to shine a light on Fernando again and see fit for a second straight Stanley in the Windy City that would be alright with me. Sail on, Fernando Pisani. We’ll remember you.