If you asked Brian Gionta how his summer is going, his response might channel baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra--it’s like deja vu all over again.
It was just one year ago that Gionta was without an NHL contract and weighing his future in hockey, but at least then the now-39-year-old could look forward to February’s Winter Olympics, where he was planning on captaining the United States’ men’s hockey team.
Now, however, Gionta, who has played parts of 16 seasons in the NHL, is considering making his mark on the sport in a new way--coaching.
The Buffalo Sabres, Gionta’s team for three seasons from 2014-17, asked the winger to help out with their development camp last month, opening Gionta’s mind to the reality of coaching.
“As I’m sitting here trying to contemplate where to go with my career and whether it’s at the end or not, it was good for me to get my foot in there and see what that was all about,” Gionta told NHL Tonight about the camp.
Gionta did manage to get back to the NHL following the Olympics, signing a pro-rated contract with the Bruins for the season’s final 20 games. Gionta chipped in two goals and seven points, but played just 11 minutes in the playoffs.
“I had a unique year last year with the Olympics and signing with Boston late. Had a ton of fun, was able to be around my family a lot last year,” Gionta added.
Now, as another summer of option-weighing and reality-facing pushes forward, Gionta knows at this point in his career there’s more to think about than just hockey.
“The main focus right now is my family, my kids and trying to figure out what’s best for everyone involved. I’ve had a great run, playing a long time in the NHL, and if this is the end, it’s the end.”
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the NHL summer recess is pretty much upon us.
*Pro Hockey Talk has the details of an eight-year contract extension between the Lightning and Nikita Kucherov that will pay the Hart Trophy candidate a sum of $9.5 million per season. It’s a reasonable deal for a superstar in the prime of his career, but one wonders if this kind of deal precludes Tampa from also locking up Erik Karlsson to a theoretical long-term contract as well. It’s reasonable to think the Lightning could afford Karlsson for the upcoming season, but much less clear how they’d be able to do it for the long term.
*If your name is Joseph Patrick Haggerty, then the chances are pretty bloody good that you’re going to like next season’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish-themed Winter Classic logo for the Bruins/Blackhawks game.
*Interesting piece on goalie Chris Darling working hard this offseason to try and bounce back from a horrendous first season with the Carolina Hurricanes.
*The Hockey News isn’t expecting a hangover second season from the Vegas Golden Knights after they made it all the way to the Cup Final last season.
*For something completely different: It was great to hear that all of the soccer players and their coach got out of the cave safely in Thailand. There were many heroes involved whether it was the Navy SEAL divers that did the rescuing, the one Navy SEAL that gave his life in the escape efforts or this Australian doctor that consulted on the rescue mission.