Bissonnette Finds Comfort With AHL Contract

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Life as a professional hockey player isn’t always easy. Every day is a struggle – whether it is for ice time, or even simply to keep your job. Few know this better than Paul Bissonnette.

After several seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes, the tough forward was not signed to another contract and left free to explore his options last summer. Attending training camp in St. Louis didn’t yield a contract, so Biz Nasty, as he is known, eventually signed to play hockey across the pond in England. However, just before departing, Bissonnette was offered and accepted a tryout to play for the Portland Pirates, Phoenix’s AHL affiliate. Eight games later, he was once again released and had perhaps had reached his low point. Shortly thereafter, thanks to Kings VP Mike Futa, he signed another tryout, this time with the Manchester Monarchs. At the time, Bissonnette shared some rather deep thoughts on the entire process in an exclusive interview with MayorsManor. If you missed it, it’s worth going out of your way to read.

Fast forward to this week and Bissonnette finally has a city he can call home for the balance of the season. Though he was once again released from his tryout, the move was made so the team could sign him to a standard player contract, keeping him a Monarch until summer. Minutes after his team’s game on Wednesday, Bissonnette once again sat down with MayorsManor for a one-on-one chat about his new contract, his future, Mike Richards, and more…

On drawing back into the lineup:

“Well, I got the flu, and I missed last game. It was good. It was a little bit weird. I hadn’t played in about ten [or] eleven days. [I’m] just getting my energy back [and] just getting the off-ice work-outs in. We had a tough couple of bag skates during the week. It was nice. It was good.”

On what exactly he was sick with:

“I got strep throat, and a little bit of a bug. I think [Dowd] got the flu. At this time of the year, I don’t think it helped that we’re traveling back, with the All-Star break, being in planes, and flying all day.”

On how he feels signing a contract for the rest of the season:

“Great. It’s just nice to kind of let that take care of itself, and just worry about getting better and advancing my game, not worrying about if I’m going to get moved, or [have] to sign another PTO. It’s good – it’s comfortable. It’s not where I want to be as far as what league, but being here, it’s a great organization, great bunch of guys, and great coaching staff and team.”

On if knowing where he will be for the remainder of the year helps him:

“Yeah. I guess it’s like stress, like anything else. If you don’t know where you’re going to be in a week, there’s always that uneasy feeling, coming to the rink with a little bit of anxiety. Every shift, you’re gripping your stick a little tighter and maybe not making the plays you need to make.”

On his assessment of his time as a Monarch to date:

“It’s a learning experience. I’m not used to playing the minutes – I played four minutes [a night] for a long time. I wouldn’t say it’s a humbling experience, because I knew what to expect. It’s tough to get your game back going, playing in that eight to 10 minute range, but it was good. I put up a couple of points, so that kind of got [my] confidence going. My main goal is to get that eight to 10 minutes where our line is producing, and being an impact as far as the team’s concerned. We get that main, but come into the playoff time, it’ll be nice to get that secondary scoring. Hopefully we can be a part of that.”

On if returning to the AHL has helped to motivate him:

“Yeah. I guess some people are born with it, and enjoy that, [while] other people aren’t. I don’t think that’s something you can fake. Do I take it as a personal shot that people don’t think I’m good enough for the NHL? Of course, and that motivates me. I love training in the summer and trying to get better. Hockey is a struggle to me – it doesn’t come easy. I have to be prepared and work for every inch. Saying that, the days you do score, put up a point, and play well, it’s nice. Those are the days where you [say], ‘All that work I put in – it came to the front.'”

On his future, specifically with regards to the Kings organization:

“No, [there hasn’t been any talk about next year]. I would love to go anywhere [Mike Stothers] is. I think he’s an unbelievable coach. He doesn’t yell at the guys. He just puts up the video, [and] puts the onus on the players and the leaders, and for us to do it our self. Great preparation, great practices. As far as the organization is concerned, I’ve been fortunate where I was in Pittsburgh, I was in Phoenix with [Dave] Tippett and [Don Maloney], who were unbelievable. It was just unfortunate money wise [in Phoenix]. And now I’m here. I have no complaints.”

On his thoughts on Phoenix finding solid ownership:

“It’s one of those situations where I think the fans really deserved it. You’ve got to kind of pat the guys on the back who have been there for a while and been through [the ownership issues]. They got the job done under not great circumstances for a while there. I know this year is kind of a struggle year. Now that they got that money, as far as a rebuild, maybe they can add a couple pieces next year. I wish them all well. If it wasn’t for them, I probably would have never stuck in the NHL. No bad will towards them.”

On Mike Richards:

“I’ve known Richie since Under-18 – I played on Team Canada with him. I knew coming in, he’s not the type of guy to come down here, sulk, and not play hard. He’s been awesome in the two games he’s played here, and he cares. I go back to it – it’s not where he wants to be. He’s a competitor and a professional.”

RELATED CONTENT:

Bissonnette Opens Up on His Past, Present, and Future

AHL: Monarchs Victorious In Richards Debut

Mike Richards Talks Skipping White House Visit

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