This week we are very fortunate to have former NHLer and current Golden Bear assistant coach Fernando Pisani join us for 4 question Friday. Fernando was picked 195th overall by his hometown Edmonton Oilers in the 1996 NHL draft after having a stellar year for the St. Albert Saints, putting up 103 points in 58 games. The following year he started his four year stint with Providence College of the NCAA’s Hockey East conference. Here he continued his impressive point production netting 56 goals and 153 point in 147 games. He got his first taste of NHL action in 2002-2003 season where he split the season between the Oilers and their then AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs. Fernando won over Oiler fans hearts during their magical 2006 Stanley Cup run when he established himself as a playoff performer by leading the league in playoff scoring with 14 goals, 5 of them being game winners. He finished his NHL carreer in 2010-2011 with the Chicago Blackhawks and is now in his third season as the University of Alberta Golden Bears assistant coach. As a member of the Golden Bears staff he has won the CIS National Championship in 2014 and 2015. Without further adue here are our 4 questions with Fernando.
1. At what point in your career did you start thinking that you would like to coach?
I didn’t really think about getting involved with coaching until I talked to Ian Herbers about coming on board with the U of A hockey program. He brought me on as an assistant coach in 2013 and I have been with the program since then.
2. Throughout your playing career was there a particular coach that you learned the most from and perhaps model your coaching style after?
I was very fortunate to have good coaches throughout my career such as Claude Julien, Craig MacTavish, Bill Moores and Joel Quenneville. I try to take a little from each coach, but ultimately I try to coach from my strengths and experiences and communicate these back to the players.
3. As a player you took the NCAA route playing 4 years for Providence College before starting your pro career? What advice would you offer young players trying to decide between pursuing an NCAA scholarship or playing major junior?
My decision to play NCAA was the best choice for me looking back; I was able to develop and grow as a player and a person. Each player will have to decide which route works best for them, I can only speak from my experiences, but I was very fortunate to walk away from Providence with a degree in business. In my first year of pro hockey I remember a few guys getting cut that didn’t have any education to fall back on and right away I could see the value of the degree that I had earned. If pro doesn’t work out and there is nothing to fall back on it can be a scary situation to be in.
4. You lived the life of a student athlete and now you are coaching them. From what you remember about your time in school and from what you see from the young men on the Golden Bears what are some of the biggest challenges in playing competitive sport while in university?
The juggling act of being a student athlete is a very difficult one, the athletes have the heavy work load of school but also the demands of performing at a high level on the ice. It takes good time management skills in order to excel on the ice and in the classroom.
You can catch Fernando behind the bench at the U of A Golden Bear home games this weekend when they host the University of Regina Cougars. Friday’s game starts at 7:00 PM and Saturday’s puck drop is at 6:00 PM, both at Clare Drake Arena. For a more complete biography of Fernando check out his Wikipedia page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernando_Pisani