"I think it’s going to be pretty hard, knowing how close I was to being a part of it,” said Pardy, the 33-year-old defenceman from Bonavista who appeared in four games for the Predators in December.
“It’s every player’s dream to win a Stanley Cup and was I there, playing with a team that’s now playing for it all. So I think I’m going be wondering a little bit ‘What if?’
“What if I didn’t snap a bone in my arm (playing in the American Hockey League in January)? Would I have had a chance to get back to Nashville? Maybe. But that’s all it is, a maybe.”
Pardy signed with the Predators in late November after operating for a month-a-half with an AHL contract, first with the Springfield Thunderbirds, the farm team of the Florida Panthers, then with the Milwaukee Admirals, the affiliate of the Predators. He was traded from Springfield to Milwaukee in a minor-league deal that was a precursor to his signing a one-year, one-way NHL contract with Nashville.
Just a little over a week later, Pardy — who had spent most of the previous nine seasons in the NHL — was back in the big leagues, this time with the Predators, who found themselves a little beat up on their vaunted back end.
“To be honest, when I was with them in December, I did not see them as a team that would be playing in a Stanley Cup final, especially knowing how tough it is in the Western Conference,” said Pardy, who also played with the Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers, as well as the Buffalo Sabres. “But right now, they have everyone going. And they really deserve to be there.
“It’s especially fun to watch (Nashville goalie) Pekka Rinne. You know we started (in the AHL) around the same time. I was in Omaha and he was in Milwaukee and I remember saying ‘This guy is good. He’s going somewhere.’
“Now, at the time, who knew for sure he’d be going all the way to a final? But believe me, he deserves it.”
Pardy is also happy to see his Milwaukee teammate, right-winger Pontus Aberg, getting some important playing time with Nashville in the playoffs.
“I always said that when he (Aberg) gets up there, he’ll open some eyes. He was way to fast for the AHL,” said Pardy. “Actually, I don’t know how he stayed with us so long.”
The young Aberg was recalled to Nashville in early April.
“Good for him, good for Nashville, but not good for us (the Admirals) in the playoffs,” said Pardy, who appeared in Milwaukee’s short (three-game) post-season run.
That he saw any playoff action was fairly remarkable after suffering a broken left forearm in a game against the Charlotte Checkers in mid-January.
“I was chasing a puck in our end when a guy on the other team got his stick in my skates and I went down pretty hard — snapped the bone clean,” he recalled.
For a little while, Pardy thought his season might be over. But with the help of some permanently placed metal plates and a lot of screws — enough metal to draw the attention of airport screening devices — he recovered quickly and made it back to appear in Milwaukee’s last seven regular-season contests plus the playoffs.
Pardy had three goals, four assists and a plus-six rating in 31 games for the Admirals and although he was pointless in his short stay with the Predators, had drawn positive reviews.
But while Nashville brought up eight players from Milwaukee at the end of the Admirals’ season to constitute the Predators’ “Black Aces” in the playoffs, Pardy wasn’t one of them.
“I hadn’t heard anything about if I was (considered) and I wasn’t really expecting it anyway,” he said.
“It’s usually young guys that get that call, plus they already had two extra guys on defence who aren’t playing, so they were all right back there.”
Pardy is in St. John’s having started another off-season that sees him wondering about what next season holds.
But not worrying.
Having played for five different NHL teams over the last six seasons and having operated on five straight one-year contracts, he’s become used to the waiting game.
“I’ve been willing to stick it out and I am again,” Pardy said, “Why walk away until you are told that you’re not wanted? The rewards are too big.
“And I still think there’s someone who will want me.”