NSB hockey pro Pineault retires after eight seasons
Published: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 2:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 10:11 p.m.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH — It wasn't long ago that Adam Pineault firmly believed he would play hockey into his 40s.
But, halfway through the 2013-14 season, his first as a member of the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies, he began having second thoughts.
During a Dec. 6 home game against the Alaska Aces, the New Smyrna Beach resident suffered a broken jaw and lost four teeth after taking a slap shot to his face.
“It's been a long career,” Pineault said. “You wake up every morning and it's tough to get out of bed, and you feel the symptoms from injuries over the years. I think that's what the major tipping point was.”
Pineault, 28, decided to retire from professional hockey after playing eight seasons in five different leagues — most notably the NHL. He played three games for the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that drafted him in the second round (No. 46 overall) in 2004.
He also won championships with Pardubice HC in the Czech Republic and with the Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League.
Pineault's time in the NHL is something he is extremely proud of. He kept the scoresheet of his first game — a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on April 3, 2008 — and has it hanging on the wall in a personalized frame in his office.
The night before, he played for the Blue Jackets' affliate in Syracuse.
“I was stretching after the game with the guys and Coach (Ross Yates) called me in and just said, 'You're going up,' ” Pineault said. “I was like, 'Oh, awesome. Where are we playing? Where am I going to?'
“I don't ever think I've been that nervous. I didn't sleep that night. Usually, I take an hour (-long) pre-game nap. I was staring at the ceiling.”
The nerves did not go away until he completed his first shift.
“I thought I was going to have to get off the ice,” Pineault said. “I don't think I've ever had my heart pump that fast.”
Pineault spent most of his tenure with Columbus in the American Hockey League. He scored 38 goals and added 50 assists in 160 career games for the Syracuse Crunch.
At the start of the 2013 season, Pineault recommitted himself to getting back to the NHL. He signed with Utah, which had just aligned itself with the Anaheim Ducks.
This time around, though, he was the wily veteran on a team full of youngsters.
“He definitely made it about 10 times easier for me,” said defenseman Mike Folkes, who re-signed for his second pro season in Utah on June 30. “He kind of took me under his wing and helped show me the ropes a little bit. I just kind of learned the ways of the pro life and how to deal with things — being away from home, not playing or playing and all of the pressures of being a pro athlete.”
Pineault played 28 regular-season games for the Grizzlies, chipping in 11 points. While injured, the forward tried his hand at coaching the defensemen.
“It was nice actually to have a forward's perspective back there,” Folkes said. “Coming from him, he's such a skilled forward that you kind of thought what he might do if he were on the attack.”
Coaching is not part of Pineault's future plans, at least not right now. Instead, he said he will enter the world of pharmaceutical sales — a career choice largely driven by his wife Monique's battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
“It's touching when Adam has been supporting me for all these years, through all my medical problems,” Monique said. “He saw that overnight one surgery changed my life.”
Monique will undergo a second hip replacement surgery Thursday. As a byproduct of chemotherapy, she developed a condition known as avascular necrosis — the death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood supply.
Adam will continue to undergo surgeries over the course of the next year and a half to fix the nearly 30 breaks in his jaw.
His aches and pains may persist over the years, but Pineault would gladly do it all over again if he had the chance.
“It's been a great experience,” he said. “Of course you always dream of being a first-line guy in the NHL, but sometimes things don't work out that way. When I look back, I played in almost every top league in the world. ... I worked as hard as I could, and not too many people can say they played a sport they love for work.”