When he played for the New Jersey Devils, forward Jay Pandolfo was a fan favorite. The 38-year-old Massachusetts native was a second round pick of the club in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. It would take him a couple of seasons to crack the lineup on a regular basis after playing college hockey for four years at Boston University where he was named the Hockey East Player of the Year.
The 1998-99 campaign would be Pandolfo’s rookie season, and he would net 14 goals and notch 27 assists in 70 games for the best offensive year of his career. As a Devil, Pandolfo was steady and durable, playing in 307 consecutive games. He holds the fourth-longest game-streak in franchise history. Currently, Travis Zajac owns the longest by appearing in 389 outings.
During Pandolfo’s years in the Garden State he would hoist the coveted Stanley Cup twice, in 2000 and 2003. His time as a Devil came to an end with a year remaining on his contract at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season where he scored five goals and added four assists in 52 games. One day before the annual free agent frenzy was set to begin, the Devils placed Pandolfo on waivers and then bought out the remainder of his tenure with the organization.
Since then, Pandolfo has drifted, unable to find a permanent place to hang his skates. After not being picked up by another club as a free agent in the 2010-11 season, Pandolfo wound up playing 12 games for a minor league team in Springfield, Mass., not too far from his home.
However, in September of 2011, the New York Islanders invited him to training camp on a tryout basis and would later offer him a one-year deal. Pandolfo played 62 games for the Islanders and the lone goal he netted was the 100th of his career.
After he parted ways with the Islanders, Pandolfo was again adrift this season until the Boston Bruins called early in January. The winger came in without any guarantees and appeared in 18 games for the boys in Beantown, but did not register a point.
When Gregory Campbell broke his leg in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins ,there was talk that Pandolfo could get an opportunity for some playing time. In order to have your name etched on the Holy Grail of hockey, a player must appear in 41 regular season games or in one outing of the Stanley Cup Finals. Of course, exceptions are made in cases of injuries or extenuating circumstances.
While Pandolfo has not publicly talked of permanently parting ways with the game he grew up playing, it seems likely given how the last couple of seasons have gone. However, even if your name isn’t on the cup, going out on top or pretty close to it is the way to go.