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Brandon Pirri returns, Wolves fall to San Antonio

Two days after being reassigned, Pirri returned to the Wolves’ lineup.

Brandon Pirri returned to the Wolves’ lineup Tuesday night.
Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

Brandon Pirri has spent a decade in professional hockey. Over that time, he has absorbed a lot of lessons.

He applied one of them when he was put on waivers Saturday by the Vegas Golden Knights and forced to wait and see whether he’d be claimed by another NHL team or sent to the Wolves.

“If I was claimed, I would be excited to have another opportunity, but at the same time I’ve learned — this is my 10th year —that you control what you can control,” Pirri said. “The less emotional you are throughout all of this, and you just take the facts because it is a business, it’s going to serve you better in the long run. So I just waited to see, my agent said ‘You didn’t get claimed, you’re going to Chicago.’ And then we said ‘OK, this is what we’re going to do, let’s go there with a good attitude,’ and I’m excited to be here.”

Two days after being reassigned, Pirri returned to the Wolves’ lineup Tuesday in their 5-3 loss to the San Antonio Rampage in the franchise’s 1,000 regular-season home game. He had an assist and Nicolas Roy scored a pair of first-period power-play goals, but the Wolves squandered a 2-0 lead and lost for the fifth time in six games.

“Unfortunately, the enthusiasm turned into a lack of effort from everybody,” coach Rocky Thompson said. “They just thought it was going to be easy.”

The Wolves must be better than they were Tuesday. Pirri figures to help.

Last season, Pirri had 42 points in 29 games with the Wolves before going to the Golden Knights, where he seemed to have stuck. Despite signing a two-year deal this summer, Pirri fell out of favor and had one assist in 11 games before getting waived.

“I’m going to come here and work hard and enjoy it,” Pirri said. “This is home for me, so I’m happy to be here.”

Pirri’s wife, Elyse, is from Chicago and of course he’s familiar with the city from his time with the Blackhawks and Wolves. The Wolves are familiar with him as well, and they’re glad to have him.

“He’s got a great attitude,” Thompson said. “He did last year and that’s why he played so well. I think his focus is in the right area. He wants to play well for Chicago and get his game back and bring that offense back, and then hopefully have another opportunity to play in the NHL one day.”

Thompson has known Pirri for three years and said he has been a pleasure to work with and expects that to continue.

“He’s here to get that game back, so we’re going to do our best to help him with it,” Thompson said. “He’s the best contributing factor to his own success and really, the attitude’s the No. 1 factor. He already has that, so I’m excited.”

Pirri is too. At 28, he isn’t a youngster anymore and wants to be a leader for his youthful teammates.

“I’m kind of getting to that age where you want to help these young guys figure out (the professional game) and grow,” Pirri said, “so I’m just hoping to contribute down here.”