September 23, 2010 – Paul Bissonnette still remembers the preseason game. If you got jumped by Kyle Clifford, you would too. “He did what he had to do,” says the 30 year-old-forward, with a restrained snarl. He wanted to square off. Clifford, a rookie who wore number 64 at that time, wanted to get in the first punch. “He got the jump on me, it’s all good. He’s been a great player since,” Bissonnette explains.
Humility – that is exactly what you would expect from an edgy, aggressive professional hockey player who has been a lightning rod throughout his career, chirps with his lips and throws bombs with his fists. And that is just on the ice. Off the ice, Bissonnette has a reputation as a quick-witted, Twitter sensation, with his “Biz Nasty” handle becoming more than just a title, it’s been his brand.
“I’m happy to be in this organization. They have some good role players up there in Kinger, and Nolan and Cliffy, for sure,” he continues.
That is right. Respect, kindness, why does this surprise you?
NHL enforcers are some of the most quality human beings you will meet. And when the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester signed him to a tryout contract last season, it came with the expectation the solid human being Paul Bissonnette is off the ice and his do-anything-for-the-team style on the ice would rub off on the younger players.
Of course, it came with external questions; namely, would this be his last stop or could it be a springboard to a possible NHL return? The latter hasn’t happened yet. But Bissonnette is not complaining, especially coming off a Calder Cup Championship in 2015.
After signing a one-year contract with the Reign this past summer, his role has continued to mature. He has managed to keep a low profile on social media and be a good mentor for some of the Kings’ younger players. Mike Futa, Vice President of Hockey Operations, told MayorsManor that is exactly what he wanted when he encouraged Kings management to sign Bissonnette. Futa’s relationship with Bissonnette goes back to their time in Owen Sound (OHL). So does that of Reign head coach, Mike Stothers. Both knew him when he was young and unleashed. They trusted him to join the L.A. Kings organization and make his mark.
Now relocated to beautiful Southern California, Bissonnette has his team, his coach’s trust and his teammates’ respect.
“Well, this year, we lost a lot of guys, whether it was to waivers or trade,” Bissonnette began, when we caught up with him recently. “The young guys have come in and done a good job early on. The young guys, [Stothers] kind of took them in and explained the systems. There were a little bit of growing pains there, but they really took a hard load [from the rest of us] once the younger guys starting getting it. Guys like [Brodzinski] came in and starting scoring goals for us. [Zykov] is playing hard, playing well; maybe the points aren’t there and stuff like that. Some guys are really stepping up for us. As far as us winning and stuff like that, we’ve been doing a pretty good job, especially with the amount of guys we lost. I think that’s a testament to the systems we play and we have a pretty good D-core, too. That probably helps out quite a bit.”
Does Bissonnette feel his career has stabilized since leaving the Coyotes’ organization?
“It was a tough situation and credit to a lot of guys in the locker room in Phoenix,” he noted. “As far as stability is concerned, obviously L.A.’s organization is unbelievable. You have breakfast and lunch at the rink every day. It’s first class. Things like that make it easier to transition and kind of let you focus on the hockey aspect of things, for sure.”
Still though…boys will be boys.
Recently, for a few hours, a picture surfaced on Twitter with a handful of his younger AHL teammates dressed up like pro wrestlers. “All the rookies had to dress like that,” he said with a deep laugh. “We had to take that one down quick. I thought it was hilarious. A few of our other guys are big wrestling fans, as well as I am. We thought it would be a fun idea if they dressed up as wrestlers and they had to do their intro music and come into the restaurant where we had our room and stuff. They went all out; I was very impressed by all of the costumes.”
All hockey and no play, makes Bissonnette something other than what we love him to be – himself.
A picture is worth how many words? You pick the words.
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