Bruins' Hnidy still puts 'young guys in their place'

Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:30 AM ET

VANCOUVER — Shane Hnidy is loathe to admit it, but retirement actually crossed his mind last fall.

After an exhaustive search for a job as an unrestricted free agent agent came up fruitless this summer, the Neepawa product agreed to a walk-on tryout with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Hnidy was in great shape and recognized there was an opportunity for a guy with his experience to win a job and be a stablizing force with such a young group in place.

But on the third day of training camp, disaster struck as he went into the boards and came away with a torn rotator cuff that required surgery.

“It was the first scrimmage and it wasn’t much of a play,” said Hnidy. “I got bumped into the boards and it really wasn’t hard, but my shoulder went in awkward and I heard a snap. It wasn’t a dirty hit or anything. I tried to give it a couple days but it didn’t get better. I had the MRI and I needed surgery.”

That left Hnidy on the shelf and to make matters worse, he still didn’t have a contract signed or a team to play for.

It also left him with some serious time for reflection.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do, if I was going to bother coming back,” said Hnidy. “The big R-word was out there. It wasn’t serious, but I thought about it. Then I knew that if I didn’t at least try (to come back) that I was going to regret it.”

In the end, there was no need for regret and no need to retire.

Instead, he had the surgery and moved back home to Winnipeg, going through the rehab process at the Pan-Am Clinic.

All of Hnidy’s hard work paid off as the Bruins inked him to a one-year deal just before the NHL trading deadline.

Hnidy didn’t suit up until April, but instead of signing his retirement papers, he now finds himself in the Stanley Cup final against the Vancouver Canucks.

Although he didn’t play the first two games and the Bruins are down 2-0 going into Monday’s third game, Hnidy is ready if his name is called by head coach Claude Julien.

“Boston is an organization that fits my style — I’m glad I came back,” said Hnidy, who has appeared in three games during the playoff run and reached the Stanley Cup final for the first time. “When you get older, you really appreciate the moment and you want to take advantage of it. I’ve been playing 14, 15 years and this is my first time. Enjoy every moment. This is it. This is what we all dream and grow up wanting to do.”

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has known Hnidy since his days with the Ottawa Senators and is happy he brought the reliable veteran on board for the stretch drive.

“He was a guy that could give us some depth and he accepted the role as the seven, eight, nine defenceman,” said Chiarelli. “I like to call it backroom character. He’s played in the playoffs. He’s a gritty guy and he can put some of the young guys in their place once in awhile.”

 


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