Pirri 'fore sure' glad to be back with Blackhawks

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Brent Seabrook, left, congratulates Brandon Pirri after he scored against Toronto Oct. 19, 2013 at the United Center.

    Brent Seabrook, left, congratulates Brandon Pirri after he scored against Toronto Oct. 19, 2013 at the United Center. Associated Press

  • Brandon Pirri with the Vegas Golden Knights last year.

    Brandon Pirri with the Vegas Golden Knights last year. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/29/2020 3:52 PM

While on the range Monday at Harborside International Golf Center, Brandon Pirri noticed a text from Vegas Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon.

"I was like, 'Oh my God. What's going on?' " Pirri said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A moment later, McCrimmon called and told Pirri he'd been traded to the Blackhawks. Back to where it all began. Back to the city where he lives with his wife and son.

"It was short and very sweet for me," Pirri said of his conversation with McCrimmon.

After Pirri relayed the news to his wife, he hit the course and was even par after six holes. Then the trade was announced and his phone and focus "went nuclear" for the rest of the round.

"You've never seen a guy lose money and be happy about it," Pirri said, laughing.

Pirri has bounced around the NHL and AHL since the Hawks traded him to Florida March 2, 2014. He scored 29 goals for the Chicago Wolves in 2017-'18, then earned a call-up with Vegas the next season and scored 12 times in 31 games. That was enough to earn him a two-year, $1.55 million contract.

"That was nice for me after a couple years in the American League -- proving to myself and everyone that I can play in the NHL," Pirri said. "I've always believed in myself. When you get an opportunity, making the most of it is a pretty darn good feeling."

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Unfortunately, that feeling didn't last long as a slow start earned him a demotion back to the Wolves in November.

"For whatever reason, I just went cold," said Pirri, who had no goals in 16 games with Vegas. "I've never been a player to have the longest leash. It was just unfortunate. They had some other guys that were playing well and they just went in another direction."

Now the Hawks are giving Pirri another chance. He said GM Stan Bowman told him the Hawks know "You are a different player than you were back in the day. We believe that you can fit in here, and we're excited to get going."

Like most playoff bubble teams, the Hawks could use more secondary scoring. Five players had 18 or more goals for coach Jeremy Colliton last season, but the well was dry after that. Pirri will likely fight for ice time with Alex Nylander (10 goals), Drake Caggiula (9), Andrew Shaw (3 goals in 26 games), Matthew Highmore, John Quenneville, recent free-agent signee Pius Suter and others.

The 29-year-old always had high-end offensive skill and has displayed it enough with 72 goals in 275 NHL games.

"A lot's changed in my game," Pirri said, noting what is different since 2014. "I figured how to be a good pro. I've been through ups and downs, a lot of teams, a lot of good veterans and teammates along the way that I've got to choose the type of person and player I want to be."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And that's a player who contributes to the Hawks next season.

There are no guarantees. Of making the team. Of his role if he does. Of ice time.

Of anything.

That's nothing new for Pirri.

"Throughout my career nothing's been handed to me," Pirri said. "I've kind of had to force hands a little bit.

"I relish this opportunity. I get a chance to be back in the NHL and back where it all started, at home. I'm going to prepare better than I ever had -- do that much more to make this work because this would be the perfect situation for me and my family."

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