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.”