Zac Rinaldo has been telling us for two years that he's more than just a pest. Just give him a chance and he'll show us all that he can score goals and be more than just a fighter. He has hockey talent and just needs an opportunity to showcase it with talented linemates.
Here's your chance, Zac.
According to Diana Nearhos of the Glens Falls Post-Star, Rinaldo skated on a line with Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier Tuesday morning at Phantoms practice. Zac had skated with Schenn and Coots late in Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Springfield Falcons as well.
How did Phantoms head coach Terry Murray justify putting Rinaldo on the top line? Via the Post-Star:
"I didn't like what happened there with the (Brayden) Schenn thing and the hitting on the back of the head on the cross check," Murray said. "That's why (Zac) Rinaldo was put there. He's got a presence. I just want to go with that right now, see how it looks in the practices."
And yes, Rinaldo again reiterated today in talking with the Post-Star that he wants to be a well-rounded player, etc. etc. That's (again) why this is so awkward: Rinaldo says he's a well-rounded player, but his coach justifies putting him on the top line because he's the pest everybody thinks he is.
Regardless of how he got there, though, Rinaldo is now on the top line. He played there Sunday, he's there in practice this week and it looks like he'll be there come puck drop on Friday at 6 p.m. in Newfoundland. He has two of the most talented players in the league by his side, and if he's ever going to take advantage of an opportunity to prove he's more than his reputation, it's right now.
Zac Rinaldo's been talking the talk for a long time. Now, it's time to walk the walk.