Nine seasons as a player. Seven more seasons as either a full-time or part-time coach. Three league championships. Two more appearances in the finals. Yes, you can call the man who owns the No. 18 spot on our Chicago Wolves Top 40 Countdown, presented by Jewel-Osco, a franchise legend.
When the Wolves played their first game on Oct. 1, 1994, Bob Nardella was in the lineup wearing No. 7 and he handed out his first of 239 assists in Burgundy and Gold.
Over the course of the next 12 seasons, the Melrose Park native’s skills on the blue line took him all over the globe to play — which included representing Italy in the 1998 and 2006 Olympics as well as three IIHF world championships — but he always came back to the Wolves and made a difference.
When the Wolves were locked in a scoreless tie with the Detroit Vipers in Game 7 of the 1998 Turner Cup Finals, it was Nardella who sent the perfect pass to Chris Marinucci to break the tie at 5:04 of the third to spark the first Wolves championship.
During the 1998, 2000 and 2002 postseasons — the Wolves’ first three titles — Nardella played in 62 of a possible 63 playoff games and racked up 12 goals and 33 assists along the way.
His final season with the Wolves came in 2005-06, when he played at the age of 38 and still contributed one goal and six assists in 20 games wrapped around his commitment to playing for the host country in the 2006 Turin Olympics.
Nardella ranks fifth on the Wolves’ all-time regular-season list in assists (239) and sixth in points (298). He’s second to Steve Maltais in games (476) and No. 1 among defensemen in goals (59).
On the team’s postseason lists, Nardella stands second in games (101), fourth in points (61), fourth in assists (44) and seventh in goals (17).
He remains a vital part of the franchise as he’s in his fourth season as a full-time assistant. Prior to joining Rocky Thompson’s staff in 2017 and serving as the lone holdover when Ryan Warsofsky took over this season, Nardella worked for three years as the Wolves’ skating and skills coach.
Bob and his wife, Alicia, have two sons who are making their way through the hockey world. Bobby, 24, enjoyed a standout rookie campaign with the AHL’s Hershey Bears last season before joining Sweden’s Djurgardens squad this year due to the AHL’s initial uncertainty due to COVID. Nick, 22, has earned increased time with Michigan Tech’s squad as this season has progressed.
Want to enjoy more of the countdown?
No. 40: Gage Quinney
No. 39: Tim Breslin
No. 38: Nathan Oystrick
No. 37: Ben Simon
No. 36: Curtis McKenzie
No. 35: Kamil Piros
No. 34: Mark Mancari
No. 33: Simon Gamache
No. 32: Guy Larose
No. 31: Wade Megan
No. 30: Shane Harper
No. 29: Michael Davies
No. 28: Karl Stewart
No. 27: Cory Larose
No. 26: Pat Cannone
No. 25: Brian Wiseman
No. 24: Colin Stuart
No. 23: Brian Noonan
No. 22: Tim Bergland
No. 21: Joey Crabb
No. 20: Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman
No. 19: Dan Currie
No. 18: Dan Plante