Pisani signs with Blackhawks

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 PM ET

The best team in the NHL wants him, even if the 30th place team didn’t.

In sports it’s all about the right guy in the right place at the right time, and while Fernando Pisani no longer fits in with the rebuilding Oilers, the Stanley Cup champions have a spot for him.

“I’m really excited, I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be a new chapter in my life,” said Pisani, after signing a one-year, one-way deal with the Hawks for $500,000 US. “I’m ecstatic. We’d been talking for the last week or so and it just kind of came about today. I’m happy to be part of the Hawks organization.”

It’s not about money for Pisani, who played out his four-year, $10-million deal with the Oilers, it’s about playing the game. And as the summer wound down and the unrestricted free agent wasn’t getting any bites, he started worrying that there wouldn’t be a job for him in the NHL this year.

“You’re obviously hoping to have something done a lot earlier in the summer,” he said, adding the overall climate is putting all free agents on edge. “It was a weird summer in terms of signings. It’s surprising for everybody that there hasn’t been a lot of action going on.

“The uncertainty is what kills you. Not knowing what teams are thinking or what the thought process is. You want to get settled, have everything lined up. I’m happy to have this done and move forward.”

Pisani is a luxury that mediocre teams can’t afford, but is an asset that every strong club needs, if that makes sense. It won’t matter much if he doesn’t put up any offence in Chicago, they’ve got that part covered 10 times over, but his penalty killing, defence and playoff experience are important assets.

The Hawks, who sent Colin Fraser to Edmonton for a sixth-round pick in June, had a hole to fill in that area and Pisani is the guy they wanted.

“They like the fact I’m a versatile player and can play in different roles,” said Pisani, who scored 14 goals, including six game winners, during the Oilers Stanley Cup playoff run in 2006.

Since that glorious spring, he ran into all kinds of health issues, including a broken ankle and two bouts of ulcerative colitis that limited him to 134 of Edmonton’s 246 games over the last three seasons.

“Health-wise I feel great, everything is good. I’m raring to go,” he said, adding his colitis history might have scared away some suitors. “I think that was an obstacle. There’s obviously a little bit of leeriness when it comes to that, people think I’m still sick and all that, but I just have to keep reminding them that I’m healthy, everything is good and I feel great.

“I’m still on the same meds, still have to do the same things, but I’m going in confident with my ability to play the game.”

The Oilers, meanwhile, showed no interest. Didn’t even give Pisani a courtesy call after 10 years with the organization.

He’s fine with that, and as much as he would have liked to remain in Edmonton, leaves with nothing but great memories.

“I’ve been with the organization for 10 years, a lot of great friendships and respect for the organization, how they dealt with me when I was sick, I wish them all the best. I have a lot of friends on the team.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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