Inspiration won't be a problem for Dr. Pat Maddalena tonight at HSBC Arena.
The New York Titans forward welcomes the challenge of helping an expansion team forge its National Lacrosse League identity.
Since he lives on Grand Island and practices at City Chiropractic on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo, many of his patients, friends and family members will get to watch him when the Bandits and Titans face off at 7:30 (Radio 1520 AM). More than 16,000 tickets have been sold for the Bandits' home opener.
Maddalena will be playing against the organization that traded him five years ago, following three productive seasons in Buffalo.
And most important, there's extra pop in his every hop since the birth of his first child. Maddalena and his wife, the former Jamie Fiegel -- who played women's lacrosse at Canisius College, started the Medaille College program and is now an immigration attorney working in downtown Buffalo -- became parents Dec. 18 when daughter Jaylee Theresa weighed in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces.
"Everything is a little more exciting now and I'm certainly more motivated at everything I do since she was born," said the 28-year-old Maddalena. "This has been like no other feeling for me. I appreciate everything more than ever because of her."
Maddalena, who is 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, is a scorer. He tallied 58 goals and 96 points in 40 games with the Bandits during his first three NLL seasons. He ranks second in goals (137), assists (134) and points (271) on the Arizona Sting's career list after spending the last four seasons with that organization.
But he wasn't protected for the expansion draft and the Titans grabbed him with their first selection.
"We were actually surprised he wasn't protected being a premier goal scorer and a left-hander," said Titans Assistant General Manager and director of player personnel Jeff Dowling. "He's really excited about this opportunity. It's just a quick little flight for him now."
And that's a big change from Maddalena's days with the Sting, when he was attending New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls and making five-hour plane rides to Phoenix for games.
That routine forced him to become a master at budgeting his time and taught him how to study at 30,000 feet. But other than that, it was mostly a grind.
But since moving to Western New York in May, Maddalena and two other doctors have worked hard to build their practice. Maddalena hopes to attract more fellow athletes as patients.
"I love helping people, especially working with athletes to improve both their health and performance," said Maddalena, who was drawn to chiropractic as a youth hockey player when his doctor helped him make a speedy recovery from a broken clavicle. "There's nothing like the feeling of being able to help someone. If you love your job then you're actually never really going to work."
Maddalena also loves lacrosse. The Welland, Ont., native picked it over hockey though he once was invited to a Niagara Falls Thunder camp and his heroes were Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
Given his work and family situations, he admits things might be more convenient if he were again wearing a Bandits uniform.
"I loved my time with Buffalo but I'm also happy to be a Titan," said Maddalena, who had two goals and two assists in a 15-12 loss at Chicago on Saturday in the Titans' opener. "But this is a business and you can't pick where you play. I have mixed emotions every time I play here. There's always that little extra when you get traded from a team. I'll always feel like I have something to prove against Buffalo."
The Bandits also are looking for their first win. They lost, 11-10, in overtime at Portland on Dec. 30 but own a 15-game winning streak against expansion teams. They are 9-6 all-time in home openers and face a busy weekend with another game Saturday night in Denver against the defending champion Colorado Mammoth.
Bandits coach Darris Kilgour said injured goaltender Steve Dietrich isn't ready to return. Kilgour said he plans to start Mike Thompson in both weekend games.