( Photo Credit: Stanley Cup of Chowder | Stanleycupofchowder.com )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Happy 36th Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Forward Daniel Paille!

Daniel Paille was born on April 15th, 1984, in Welland, Ontario, Canada. He began playing juniors as a 15-year-old forward for the Welland Cougars (ON-Jr.B), and then at 16-years-old moved on to play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). The 6’1, 200-pound forward played for the Guelph Storm (OHL) from 2000-2004, and after a second straight 50+ point campaign in 2002, he was selected in the first round by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. In his final season in the OHL, Paille racked up 37-43-80 numbers in 59 games played before graduating from juniors and being assigned to play in the American Hockey League in 2004.

Paille suited up for Buffalos’ minor-pro affiliate, the Rochester Americans (AHL), from 2004-2007, playing in 152 games and posting 35-42-77 numbers, but split his time with the Buffalo Sabres and saw his first National Hockey League action in 2005-2006. In 2006-2007, Paille received another opportunity to crack the line-up with the Sabres, playing in 27 games and posting 3-8-11 numbers with a +5 rating. Paille continued to impress and show off his skills as a versatile forward during camp and preseason, this time finally being awarded a full-time spot in the line-up in 2007-2008, where he played 77 games that season and produced 19-16-35 numbers with a +9 rating. The versatile forward continued to play with the Sabres from 2008-2009, racking up 28 more points before being traded just two games into the 2009-2010 season to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a third-round pick (Kevin Sundher) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Paille wore the Spoked-B that season with pride, appearing in 74 games and collecting ten goals and 19 points. The following season in 2010-2011, Paille became known for playing on the Bruins’ fourth-line, the ‘Merlot Line’ with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. That line became one of the Bruins’ best shutdown fourth-lines they’ve had in years and was also reliable when it came to scoring depth and killing penalties. During the 2010-2011 regular season, Paille suited up for 43 games and produced 6-7-12 numbers. Then in April of 2011, the Boston Bruins began to make the playoff run of a life-time, playing in three game-sevens (Canadiens, Tampa, Vancouver) and would go on to capturing the Stanley Cup in Vancouver. Even though Paille was used as a utility player throughout the 2010-2011 regular season, he didn’t miss a single playoff game and was vital for the Bruins’ fourth-line, chipping in three goals and six points in 25 games played. He was also an important piece to the Bruins’ penalty-kill unit and scored a short-handed goal against the Vancouver Canucks in game three of the Stanley Cup Finals. Pailles’ unforgettable motor and straight-ahead game ignited the ‘Merlot Line’ and played a vital role in helping the Boston Bruins win their first Stanley Cup since 1972.

During the 2011-2012 season, Paille suited up for 69 games and posted 9-6-15 numbers, but unfortunately, the Bruins would go on to lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Washington Capitals. The following season, the National Hockey League was put on pause until January due to the player lock-out. To stay in game-shape, Paille traveled to Finland and signed to the Ilves Tampere (SM-liiga) as a free agent, playing in nine games before returning to Boston to begin the last-half of the NHL season in January of 2013. The left-winger tallied ten goals and 17 points in 46 games that season and would help lead the Bruins to another Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2013 before being defeated by the Chicago Blackhawks in game six. He appeared in 22 playoff games and contributed 4-5-9 numbers.

Paille would continue to suit up for the Bruins for two more seasons, from 2013-2015, posting 15-16-31 numbers in 143 games, before his contract expired and entered the free-agent market. Paille struggled to extract significant interest from NHL teams and decided to sign a PTO (professional try-out) contract with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL) in September of 2015. He played 31 games with the club before signing to the New York Rangers as a free agent in January of 2016. He appeared in just 12 games and failed to register a point, before being waived by the Rangers. Paille cleared waivers and was reassigned to their minor-pro affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL), for the remainder of the season.

In 2016, Paille retired from the NHL and traveled to Sweden to play for their professional hockey league. He began to find his production again, racking up 12 goals and 25 points in 45 games during the 2016-2017 season, but unfortunately, his playing career would come to a sudden end the following season. In 2017, Paille appeared in 14 games that season and then suffered a nasty concussion after a blind-side hit to the head from Thomas Larkin on November 7th. Shortly after, Larkin was charged with assault by Swedish prosecutors and is still awaiting a date for his trial. Since the injury, Paille hasn’t returned to hockey and looks like the forward is not in any rush to get back on the ice. Even though updates on Pailles’ injury are scarce, we continue to wish him a speedy and healthy recovery.

Throughout his 11-year career in the NHL, Paille suited up for 582 games and posted 85-87-172 numbers with a +15 rating. He will always have a special place in my heart personally, and I’ll never forget how fun it was to watch him play every time he stepped on the ice. Paille was a grinder each shift and came through for the Bruins during the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs to help reach a Stanley Cup victory for the first time in 39 years. Happy birthday, Daniel Paille!