DiSalvatore Makes Instant Impact with Crunch

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The way Jon DiSalvatore looks at it, he doesn’t have much time to waste.

The 32-year-old forward, after being the odd-man out due to a restriction on import players with Munich of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in Germany, wasn’t getting the ice time he had hoped for in his first European season.

DiSalvatore didn’t want to wait around, so he chose to return to North America.

"I just felt like the way things were being run out there, it felt like it was becoming a wasted year, a wasted opportunity," said DiSalvatore, a veteran of 10 American Hockey League seasons. "I don't feel like at this point in my career I have any years to waste."

In his return to the United States, DiSalvatore rejuvenated the Syracuse Crunch’s top line, registering two goals and seven assists in his first 12 games. The Maine native’s linemates, former Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounders Vladislav Namestnikov and Brett Connolly, have combined for 23 points since DiSalvatore made his Crunch debut Dec. 20.

“He does a lot for that line, he does a lot of the dirty work … He’s going into the corners, getting pucks,” said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. “He’s won some battles along the wall that have turned into goals for those two guys.”

While Connolly and Namestnikov have game-changing capabilities, DiSalvatore has notched more than 200 goals in his AHL career. But DiSalvatore isn’t one to take the credit.

"Those two are tremendously talented players," DiSalvatore said. "My feeling playing with those guys is to try to get the puck back to them, try to be good on the forecheck, and get the puck in their hands. Ultimately, they need time and space, and if I can give them some time and space out there, they'll be able to show what they can do out there."

DiSalvatore is certainly consistent. The winger drafted out of Providence College by San Jose has eclipsed the 20-goal mark in all 10 of his AHL seasons, and posted 61 points in back-to-back seasons with the Houston Aeros in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

"When you do something for a long time, you always have that expectation for yourself," DiSalvatore said. "When people are evaluating whether to bring you in for their program, they look for you to bring that element. I try to not put that much pressure on it, I just try to do the little things that allow me to be in the situations to produce and score goals."

For Zettler, DiSalvatore’s veteran presence shines through on and off the ice.

“The subtle little plays he makes without the puck are a sign of a guy who’s been around," Zettler said. "He has the experience and knows what he’s doing. That’s been fun for me to watch and fun for our younger guys to learn from.”

DiSalvatore is just happy to be a regular part of the lineup.

"I feel like I have a lot of good hockey to give,” he said. “I want to be a part of a team that wants me to be a part of their team.”