The Bruins signing of 39 year-old Brian Gionta to a one year, $700k deal means a former Boston College legend will be returning to Boston. The last time Gionta wore a jersey with Boston across the front was in 2001.
Brian Gionta’s 1000 NHL games are the reason why he is a household name throughout the National Hockey league. Gionta last put in time in the NHL last season with the Buffalo Sabres. Gionta captained Buffalo for three straight seasons after signing a deal in July of 2014. During his time in upstate New York, Gionta solidified himself as a leader. The Sabres did not resign him this past offseason. Buffalo’s AHL team, the Rochester Americans, also the home town of Gionta, inked him to a practice squad contract. This let Gionta stay in playing shape.
The United States Olympic committee named Brian Gionta the Captain of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey team. Not being in the NHL allowed the Olympic Committee to put his name on the roster. Being a captain of an Olympic hockey team is an incredible achievement, not to mention it gave Gionta the chance to play with many young, talented hockey players. This includes possible future teammate, Ryan Donato.
Brian Gionta’s path to Olympic leader began as a leader for the Boston College Men’s ice Hockey team. Gionta flew with the Eagles from 1997 to 2001. Jerry York, current coach of BC, guided Gionta into the legend he is today. Gionta acquired the skills and traits of a leader by playing on a team filled with leaders and future stars. Marty Reasoner, a native of the city Rochester like Gionta, mentored Gionta during his freshman season. With the guidance of Reasoner, Gionta put 30 goals in the back of the net and put up 62 total points. The University of Michigan Wolverines put an end to Gionta’s incredible season, defeating Boston College in the National Championship game in Boston.
Gionta continued to put up numbers at Boston College, scoring 33 goals with 56 points as a sophomore. The playoff woes still plagued the Eagles as the University of Maine Blackbears eliminated BC in the semi-finals of the Frozen Four. The phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” is continuing to reign true for Gionta at this point in his BC career. Junior year for Gionta was more of the same. Continues to put the puck in the net and put up points with 33 goals and 56 points. However, once again, BC was not able to get it done in the playoffs with a loss to the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux in the national championship game.
Senior year for Gionta, the season all the pieces were falling into place. Gionta’s point total took a hit, but remained strong at five points. Not to mention he led the country in goals with 33. Amongst an Eagle roster crawling with talent, Gionta stood out as the leader. Vengeance for the loss in the National Championship game was even sweeter for Gionta and the Eagles. The won in overtime with a score of 3-2, in Albany New York no less. Not quite Rochester, but it is something.
Gionta continues to prove himself despite his age. His mentoring and leadership skills are extremely valuable to the Bruins and some of their emerging young talent.
Follow Matt McGurn on Twitter: @MickGurn
Cover image courtesy of The Boston Globe.