Brian Joseph Gionta (born January 18, 1979) is an American professional ice hockey player and the captain of the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League (NHL). He goes by the nickname "Gio" from his teammates and The Rochester Rocket, dubbed by the media.
Gionta was drafted 82nd overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. The diminutive but fiery forward attended high school at the Aquinas Institute in Rochester, New York, where in 1993–94 he was selected as their Rookie of the Year. He then skated for Boston College from 1997 to 2001, winning a National Championship as Eagles captain in the 2000–01 season. He was mentored by former NHL forward Marty Reasoner, also a Rochester native, and enjoyed his best statistical season in his freshman year on a line with Reasoner, posting 30 goals and 62 points in 40 games as the Eagles fell to the University of Michigan in the National Championship game in Boston.
Gionta followed up with a 60-point season his sophomore year as Boston College was eliminated by their Hockey East rival, the University of Maine, in the Frozen Four semi-finals. In his junior year, he posted a 33 goal, 56 point season as the Eagles fell to the University of North Dakota in that year's national championship game.
In his senior season as captain, Gionta's point total dipped again to 54 points. Nevertheless, a roster stocked with future NHL talent produced a national championship as Boston College defeated North Dakota 3–2 in overtime in Albany, New York. During his senior season, he led the nation in goal-scoring with 33 goals, including a spectacular performance against the University of Maine, in which he scored five goals on his first five shots.
New Jersey Devils
Gionta, who joined the New Jersey Devils during the 2001–02 season, was a member of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals-winning team that prevailed over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, he played for the Devils' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Albany River Rats. In 2006, he was a member of the 2006 United States' men's team that competed in Turin, Italy.
Largely serving on the right wing of the Devils' prolific "EGG" line – which included Patrik Eliáš and Scott Gomez – Gionta was one of the Devils' most effective offensive players during his tenure in New Jersey. On March 28, 2006, Gionta became the first Devils player to score 40 goals in a season since Eliáš and Alexander Mogilny each reached the mark in the 2000–01 season.
In the last game of the 2005–06 season, Gionta broke Pat Verbeek's franchise record for goals in a season, finishing with 48. In that season, he also finished with his highest point total to date, with 89 in all 82 games of the regular season. On October 27, 2007, Gionta scored the first Devils' goal in the history of the Prudential Center in the second period of a 4–1 loss to Ottawa. (Chris Neil scored the first ever).
Gionta played 473 regular season games in total for New Jersey, in addition to 67 Stanley Cup Playoff games. As of 2011, Gionta holds the franchise all-time power play goal-scoring record in one season, with 24.
On July 1, 2009, Gionta signed a five-year contract for $25 million with the Montreal Canadiens. It reunited him with former Devils teammate Scott Gomez.
Just prior to his second season with the club, in 2010–11, on September 29, 2010, Gionta became only the second American-born player to serve as team captain of the Canadiens, after Chris Chelios.
During the 2012–13 season, Gionta played in all 48 games of the lockout-shortened season and registered 14 goals and 12 assists while leading the Canadiens on a remarkable comeback from last in the Eastern Conference to their 23rd Northeast Division title. On March 5, 2013, Gionta scored the 20000th NHL goal in the history of the Canadiens in a game against the New York Rangers.[note 1] Entering the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs as the second seed against the Ottawa Senators, Gionta tore his bicep in Game 1 and was forced to undergo season-ending surgery to repair it.
On July 1, 2014, Gionta signed a three-year free-agent deal with hometown team, the Buffalo Sabres, for $4.25 million per year. On October 7, 2014, Gionta was named captain of the Sabres.
Gionta is the middle child of Sam and Penny Gionta. He and his wife, Harvest, have a son, Adam, and daughter, Leah. They welcomed their third child in May 2012, a boy named James Edward Gionta He also has a brother, Stephen Gionta, who plays for the New York Islanders. He also has an older brother Joe, who also played for the Aquinas Institute Hockey Team and graduated in 1994. Brian Gionta has a home in the Rochester, NY area where his parents still reside.
- New Jersey Devils record for most goals in a season (48 in 2005–06)
Regular season and playoffs
|1997–98||Boston College Eagles||HE||40||30||32||62||44||—||—||—||—||—|
|1998–99||Boston College Eagles||HE||39||27||33||60||46||—||—||—||—||—|
|1999–00||Boston College Eagles||HE||42||33||23||56||66||—||—||—||—||—|
|2000–01||Boston College Eagles||HE||43||33||21||54||47||—||—||—||—||—|
|2001–02||Albany River Rats||AHL||37||9||16||25||18||—||—||—||—||—|
|2001–02||New Jersey Devils||NHL||33||4||7||11||8||6||2||2||4||0|
|2002–03||New Jersey Devils||NHL||58||12||13||25||23||24||1||8||9||6|
|2003–04||New Jersey Devils||NHL||75||21||8||29||36||5||2||3||5||0|
|2004–05||Albany River Rats||AHL||15||5||7||12||10||—||—||—||—||—|
|2005–06||New Jersey Devils||NHL||82||48||41||89||46||9||3||4||7||2|
|2006–07||New Jersey Devils||NHL||62||25||20||45||36||11||8||1||9||4|
|2007–08||New Jersey Devils||NHL||82||22||31||53||46||5||1||0||1||2|
|2008–09||New Jersey Devils||NHL||81||20||40||60||32||7||2||3||5||4|
Awards and honors
|All-Hockey East Rookie Team||1997–98|
|Hockey East Rookie of the Year||1997–98|
|All-Hockey East Second Team||1997–98|
|AHCA East Second-Team All-American||1997–98|
|All-Hockey East First Team||1998–99|
|AHCA East First-Team All-American||1998–99|
|All-Star Selection, World Junior Championships||1999|
|All-Hockey East First Team||1999–00|
|AHCA East First-Team All-American||1999–00|
|All-Hockey East First Team||2000–01|
|AHCA East First-Team All-American||2000–01|
|Hockey East Player of the Year||2000–01|
|Stanley Cup (New Jersey Devils)||2002–03|