Paille seeks balance in post-playing career
Former National Hockey League winger and Welland native Dan Pallie, now an assistant coach at Canisius College, was scouting at the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League Showcase in Pelham last week. Photo: BILL POTRECZ.
Life if all about balance for Dan Paille these days.
The 38-year-old Welland native is cultivating a career as an assistant coach with the Canisius College Golden Griffins hockey team while also being a husband and father to his young son and infant daughter.
“I’m at that stage where I’m trying to find the balance to help other people but also be near to my family and I have that now,” Palle said. “I’m definitely excited about what I am doing right now.
“Obviously some events in the past have changed my perspective on things — injuries, the passing of my father — for me it’s more about family time and having a good balance between the two.”
Paille had a solid NHL career after being selected 20th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2002 National Hockey League Entry Draft. He spent 11 seasons in the NHL, amassing 85 goals and 87 assists in 582 regular-season contests split between the Sabres, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. He chipped in 19 points 75 postseason games, helping the Bruins capture the Stanley Cup in 2011.
After his time in the NHL, Paille joined Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League for two seasons before retiring at the end of the 2017-18 campaign after suffering a serious concussion.
It was at that point the former Welland Cougar began to think about life after hockey.
“I really had a problem with the last one (concussion),” he said. “Any other one I never really had symptoms until the last one. It took some time and I was also in the middle of having a baby on the way. Both of those things played a part between the time I was healing and trying to recover and becoming a father, that perspective changed life for me. I wanted to be healthy for my son.”
Living in Buffalo at the time, Paille reached out to Canisius head coach Trevor Large.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the game but I knew I wanted to help out in some way,” Paille said.
Paille and Large hit it off and Paille joined the Griffins as a volunteer coach.
“It was more about just getting involved,” Paille said. “It was more about putting my foot in there and see what happens.”
Paille quickly realized he enjoyed coaching and after a second season of volunteering was offered a position as assistant coach.
In his first two seasons on the Canisius staff, Paille has aided in the development of the team’s forward group while also assisting with the team’s penalty kill unit. He has played a key role in the development of a forward group that saw multiple career highs set during the pandemic-shorted 2020-21 season as well as a penalty kill that ranked second in league in that category last season.
“I’m assistant coach but in the NCAA you’re also recruiting, planning trips, planning practice. My primary role is player development specializing in penalty kill and I’ve taken on bigger role coordinating travel as well,” he said. “The player development has been very rewarding. Everyone has their own style how they play but there are always fundamentals that can help improve even just a little bit. Taking half a second from a shot is huge, little things like that, or where to position themselves, where the puck is in certain areas.”
Paille is also working towards his bachelor’s degree in commerce with a major in accounting from Athabasca University in Alberta. He and his wife, Dana, are the parents of a son, Emmanuel, 4, and new-born Madeline.
“It definitely changes your perspective,” Paille said of becoming a parent. “As a parent your patience is tested but their innocence in amazing. Their joy in everything takes me back in time. Even the days when you don’t feel up for it, it’s been a rewarding process.”
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