Center Brandon Pirri was 23 years old when the Blackhawks traded him to the Florida Panthers for two draft picks. Now, he's 29 and he and his wife Elyse are expecting their second child in December.
"I think last time around I was a kid, this time I (almost) have two kids," Pirri said. "A lot's changed in my game, I kind of figured out how to be a good pro. I think I was trying to figure it out back then and now I've been through it, through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of teams, a lot of good veterans and teammates along the way that I've gotten to pick and choose which type of person and player I want to be. I really think that I've figured out what kind of player I am and how I can help contribute in the NHL, and I'm excited to get going and get another shot at this, and hopefully make it work."
With the talent Chicago has had in its system the past 10-plus years, prospects like Pirri have had a short leash, but GM Stan Bowman and the Hawks are also known to bring back familiar faces.
Pirri, who was originally drafted by the Blackhawks in the second round (No. 59 overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft, was golfing with Jeremy Morin, Adam Clendening and Terry Broadhurst, who all had two stints in the Hawks organization prior to Pirri, when he got the news he was back with the franchise.
A new opportunity with the Blackhawks is a great fit for Brandon and his family.
"It wasn't expected, but I was thrilled to get that phone call," Pirri said. "I spend my summers here. We have a home here and I know for me and my wife, we were absolutely thrilled, especially with a baby on the way. This situation couldn't be better for us."
Pirri was traded to the Panthers in March of 2014. He went on to play for the Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers before getting a chance with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Brandon had signed with the Chicago Wolves (Vegas' AHL affiliate) for the 2017-18 season when his wife was pregnant with their first child and he was able to play in a couple games at the end of the year for the Golden Knights.
For the 2018-19 season, Pirri took on a bigger role with the team, putting up 18 points (12 goals, six assists) in 31 regular season games and saw a playoff contest that year.
"That was nice for me after a couple years in the American League, proving to myself and everyone else that I can play in the NHL," Pirri said. "That's always been my dream, I've always believed in myself.
"When you get an opportunity, making the most of it is a pretty darn good feeling. I think last year, for whatever reason, I just went cold and I've never been a player to have the longest leash, so it was just unfortunate they had some other guys that were playing well and they just went in another direction. I enjoyed my time there in that organization, there's some really good people and right now I'm just really excited to be here with the Blackhawks again and see what happens."
The forward recorded 15 goals and 20 assists for 35 points in 38 games with the Wolves and was credited with two assists in 16 games with the Knights this past season.
So what does he expect to come from his second chance with the Hawks?
"I don't think anyone even knows when (the season) is going to start, but I'm working to play on the Blackhawks, and if I don't, it's still a great situation," Pirri said. "I loved my time in Rockford, but I'm treating this as preparing myself to play with the Blackhawks and provide them with some depth."
With the Rockford IceHogs, the Hawks' AHL affiliate, Pirri won the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL's top scorer with 75 points (22 goals, 53 assists) in 2012-13.
"I'm looking forward to getting into that locker room, there's a lot of guys that are still there from my first time here and whether it's Carpy (Ryan Carpenter, also a teammate in Vegas) or, you know, I played on a line with Shawzy (Andre Shaw) for a couple years in the American League, so I think it's going to be an easier situation for me," he added. "But, at the same time, this is work and I'm going to have fun and be comfortable, but I want to produce."
Pirri has one year left on his contract that carries a $775,000 cap hit.