‘I’m Fully Bald Now’: Bonino Back with Penguins & the PK Needs Him
SUNRISE, Fla — And just like that, things seem to be back to normal. The Pittsburgh Penguins are winning games in March. The playoffs seem to be a likelihood. And Nick Bonino in his No. 13 as he centers a bottom Penguins line while killing penalties.
The Penguins acquired Bonino Friday afternoon before the NHL trade deadline. After hours of waiting for it to be official, Bonino’s homecoming became official.
The two-time Stanley Cup champion hasn’t had a chance to relax or ponder his career coming full circle with the team where he lifted a pair of Stanley Cups. A few things have changed since he left in 2017.
“I’m fully bald now. I’ve got three beautiful kids, and they’ve grown up a lot, so a lot of changes,” said Bonino with just a hint of a smile. “But I feel as good as ever. And I feel like we’re in a good spot right now.”
It has been confirmed the center will wear his old No. 13 (fellow acquisition Dmitry Kulikov will not wear the same No. 29 he wore in Anaheim).
This season, Bonino had one point in his first 20 games but has strongly rebounded with 10 goals in his last 39. He’ll also greatly benefit the Penguins’ penalty kill, which has rapidly fallen from first in the league to 15th.
“We’re thrilled to have him. First and foremost, he’s a really good person, just an unbelievable teammate. He has established relationships with our core guys. I know they’ve got a ton of respect for him,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “I think he’ll not only really help us on the ice, but he’ll help us off the ice and in so many ways … one of the areas where we think he can help us immediately is on the penalty kill, and he’s a very good penalty killer. He’s made a career out of it.”
Sullivan may get an assist from his close friend David Quinn, the head coach of the San Jose Sharks. Quinn worked with Bonino to get more skating back into his game and get him into better positions.
“I just play as complete a game as I can and think I’m skating a lot more this year. I know that was something that Quinn and I talked about a lot in San Jose, just moving my feet more and skating to the gap, things like that,” Bonino said. “So that’s what I focused on. But my strengths are usually thinking the game, and when I skate more, that makes it better.”
Less hair, more skating, and a healthy center.
Bonino also has a great relationship with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and a few of the holdovers from the 2017 Stanley Cup. There won’t be as much adjustment as a fresh newbie, though Bonino wasn’t sure how much has changed.
“I have to go learn that right now,” he said as his pregame media availability ended.