NEW YORK — Brandon Pirri spent much of his Blackhawks career in Joel Quenneville’s doghouse, the defensive-minded coach never warming to the offensive-minded forward. Despite three-plus very productive seasons with the Rockford IceHogs, Pirri never managed to nail down a regular spot in the NHL until he was shipped to the Florida Panthers for a pair of mid-round draft picks at the 2014 trade deadline.
But Pirri, now with the New York Rangers, his third team in the past year, has no hard feelings for the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft.
“I think the relationship was good,” he said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “Not everyone spends their whole career in one organization. I wasn’t in their plans, but I was given an opportunity somewhere else, and that’s all I could ask for. They didn’t hold me back or anything. They gave me an opportunity. I got my first opportunity with them and I’m very thankful for that.”
Pirri still spends his summers in Chicago, working out this past offseason with Hawks strength coach Paul Goodman, Patrick Kane, Ryan Hartman, Tyler Motte, Bryan Bickell and Brandon Bollig, among others. But he’s been a good fit for the speedy, high-powered Rangers, who signed him in late August. Pirri had 22 goals and and two assists in his first full season with the Panthers, and combined for 14 goals and 15 assists with the Panthers and Anaheim Ducks last season.
Through 30 games with the Rangers, he has six goals and six assists, and is a fixture in the lineup.
“Any team you get an opportunity with, where you’re in the lineup every night, that’s the team you want to be with,” he said. “I certainly like the style of play we have. The coaches did a great job of setting expectations, black and white, what it’s supposed to be. It makes my life and everybody else’s in this locker room pretty easy.”