by Dan Hickling
Not that he wasn’t happy about the Portland Pirates’ success through the first half of the season, but it was hard for Pierre Parenteau to feel part of it.
A serious wrist injury suffered in training camp had kept the talented third-year right wing in street clothes, while the likes of Corey Perry, Dustin Penner and Ryan Getzlaf were helping the Pirates race to the top of the Atlantic Division standings.
But not long before the parent Mighty Ducks summoned Perry and Getzlaf back to Anaheim, Parenteau was finally getting clearance from the Ducks’ docs to play.
And for Parenteau, playing has meant scoring.
In his first 32 games back, Parenteau, who may prove to be one of the steals of the 2001 NHL Entry draft (taken by Anaheim in the ninth round that year) has been more productive than ever.
His 12 goals and 18 assists in that span have put him on a personal record scoring pace.
"I’m a goal scorer, I’m a playmaker," he said. "That’s what I do. It’s having a nose for the net, I’ve had that since I was in peewee. But I’ve got to keep working. I started out this year in a hole because of my injury. It’s hard to come back. But now that I’m back, I’ve got to do my job…make some plays and score some goals."
He has become one of several Pirates (along with Joel Perrault, Ryan Shannon, Geoff Peters, et al) who have helped shoulder the scoring load following the departures of Perry and Getzlaf.
Not by coincidence, the Pirates have remained a prime Calder Cup contender as the regular season hits the home stretch.
The 22-year-old Hull, Que., native has an uncanny knack for finding the open spot near the net, and a deft touch once he gets there. But while that alone might be enough to get him to the NHL, Parenteau knows that his game still needs plenty of polishing before that happens.
"I’ve got to learn to play defensively." he said.
It’s that last aspect, according to Portland’s first year coach Kevin Dineen, that Parenteau will have to master if he is to make it as a full-time NHLer.
"He’s made a career out of (using) his offensive talents," Dineen said. "He has skills that you can’t teach (like) a soft pair of hands. What we’re trying to do with Pierre is to make him responsible, defensively. With Pierre, we’re not worried about his effort. It’s about his thought process and positioning."