TORONTO Jamie Tardif waited seven seasons for a chance to hear his name called as part of an NHL lineup, but he wont have to wait any longer.
The 28-year-old Tardif will suit up for the Bruins for his first NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre after 449 games in the ECHL and the AHL while taking Daniel Pailles place in the lineup.
For a kid that grew up in Welland, Ontario thats about as good as it gets all the way around and validation for the countless bus rides and years spent slogging through the minor leagues.
Providence coach Bruce Cassidy told me on the bus while I was playing in a card game with the rest of the guys, so it was really nice to share with my teammates. Then I got a call from assistant general manager Don Sweeney, said Tardif. I was hoping this day would come. I was hoping the day was going to come a couple of years ago, but Im very thankful for the chance from Boston.
I always tried to stay positive. Boston is a good fit for my style of play which is gritty and going hard to the net. I think the lockout actually helped me. The coaches were there almost every practice. Claude Julien, Don Sweeney and Peter Chiarelli were at just about every game, so getting off to a great start definitely helped my chances of getting called up quite a bit.
Claude Julien had nothing but good things to say about Tardif, who is second in the AHL and leading the Bruins with 21 goals scored on the season and represented the P-Bruins at the AHL All-Star game. The 6-foot, 205-pounder certainly has the ability to finish offensive plays, and can handle some of the job requirements while skating on the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Lane MacDermid.
Hes proven that hes a goal-scorer at the American Hockey League level and that hes somebody that can finish off plays, said Bruins coach Claude Julien. He can also do all of the little things like play at both ends of the ice and pay attention to detail. Hes up with us because hes deserved it with his play down in Providence.
Bruins teammates like Johnny Boychuk have a special appreciation for a career AHLer like Tardif finally getting his NHL shot. The Bruins defenseman played 374 AHL games in the Colorado and Boston organizations before finally get his permanent shot in Boston, and knows what the term paying your dues is all about.
Thats a tough go if it. Over 400 games in the minors? That is tough, said Boychuk. Its great to see him get a call-up. Thats something you really want to see after going through all of those crappy bus rides and crappy schedules.
Your mindset is just dont get sent down. You dont want to back to those long weekend bus rides to places like Norfolk, or other places way out there. You dont miss the bus at all, thats for sure.
Its unknown whether it will be one game or 10 games for Tardif, but hes got a chance to make an impression around the NHL. Thats all the journeyman forward could have ever asked for.