Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Story of Fernando Pisani

       The story of Fernando Pisani if one of dedication, perseverance, legend, and misfortune.   

       Pisani was born December 27, 1976 in Edmonton, Alberta, and grew up a fan of the mighty Oilers.  He was drafted considerably late, as the 195th overall selection, fatefully to the Edmonton Oilers in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.  Pisani then went on to spend four successful years at Providence College.  After which, Pisani joined Edmonton's AHL affiliate in Hamilton for the 2000-01 season and finished his rookie campaign with decent production in 12 goals and a total of 25 points.  The next season he more than doubled his offensive totals in each category, and finished fourth in team scoring.   In the 2002-03 season, Pisani split his time with both Hamilton and Edmonton, where in 35 games with the parent club he registered 13 points.  And finally, by the 2003-04 season, he competed the entire year at the NHL level with the Edmonton Oilers.  Pisani is generally considered a "late bloomer", because he did not see his first NHL action until the age of 27.

       During the NHL’s ‘Lock Out’ of 2004-05 Pisani played with Langnau of the Swiss National League, and then Asiago of the Italian  National League.  And when NHL play resumed in 2005-06, Pisani, scored a career-high 18 goals, with 19 assists for a total of 37 points. Yet, due to the Oilers overall record they entered the playoffs as underdogs, in the eighth and final seed of the Western Conference.   However, this was going to be a special year for the Oilers, as they were about to embark on a cinderella run to within a  game of  winning the 2006 Stanley Cup Trophy- thanks in large part to the hometown boy Pisani’s heroics. 

       Pisani entered the 2006 NHL playoffs as a man who had struggled and put in work to get to where he was in professional hockey, but he would take advantage of his situation and become the stuff of playoff legend.  By the sixth game in the first round, Pisani had already notched 3 goals against the highly touted and #1-seed Detroit Red Wings.  Yet, it was in that games six that Pisani scored 2 third-period goals, for a series clinching 4-2 victory.   The underdog Edmonton Oilers were miraculously lifted into the second round thanks to Pisani’s efforts.  They would then go on to face a talented San Jose Sharks team, where Pisani recorded another two-goal effort, including the game winner, in a 6-3 game five win.  In the Stanley Cup final, the Oilers team faced elimination in the fifth game against the Carolina Hurricanes.  Going into overtime on the penalty kill, Pisani intercepted a pass and scored his second goal of the game on a breakaway to stave off elimination for the Oilers . It was the first time in Stanley Cup Finals history that an overtime game was decided by a shorthanded goal.  Incredible.   Pisani also scored the Oilers' only goal in a losing game seven effort.  Despite the loss, Pisani finished the playoffs with an amazing and league-leading 14 goals, including a whopping 5 game-winning goals.  Proving that when presented with opportunities, sensational things can happen to those who don’t give up.

       Pisani followed his brilliant 2006 playoff performance with a relatively mediocre 28-point season in 2006-07, and the Oilers failed to qualify for the post-season.   Prior to the start of the 2007-08 season, Pisani was unfortunately diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, sidelining him for the first 26 games of the campaign.  But again, in true form he came back, returned to the Oilers lineup on December 2, 2007, and finished the season strong.  He was nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy– given to an NHL player for perseverance and dedication to hockey – at the end of the season.

       Sadly, Pisani never really played another full season due to illness and injuries.  He managed to play as many games as possible over those next few years, and was a brilliant mentor to young players in the Oilers organization.  Besides that incredible playoff run, he was never the team's best player, never their best forward, never their best right winger, but he had character and played the game in a splendid way.  His NHL career may have been late to start and early to end, yet he played it in his hometown, and it included some moments of extraordinary achievement.


Pisani attended St. Cecilia Junior High School and Archbishop O’Leary Catholic High-school in Edmonton with fellow NHL’er Sheldon Souray.  Pisani holds dual citizenship with Canada and Italy, deriving his Italian citizenship through his Italian-born father.  He and his wife Heidi have two sons and a daughter.

*special thanks to for the details and statistics included in this acticle.  And to for the video links.

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