Tardif Has Seen it All
But the veteran forward likes what his Providence club is showing the AHL
After hockey stops in Peterborough (OHL), Russia (World U18), Toledo (ECHL), Manitoba, Iowa, Grand Rapids (all AHL) and finally in Providence, there's not much that Jamie Tardif hasn't seen on a rink.
So, when Boston Bruins prospects playing for the P-Bruins are looking for some advice, he's a natural source.
"He’s a great player," said AHL rookie Ryan Spooner of the veteran forward. "He’s been around here for a while…so to have that positive influence and veteran like that is awesome for me."
On the ice, Tardif has been impressive as well.
Now leading Providence in goals (10), the veteran forward recently eclipsed the 100 goal mark in the AHL and after 398 American Hockey League games has a 103-95-198 line.
"I’m one of those guys who started out at the bottom," said Tardif after Wednesday's practice in Providence. "Coming out of the OHL, coming out making $200 a week playing in the East Coast Hockey League in Toledo. I’ve had to work my way up in everything I’ve done, and I’ve been able to be successful scoring goals, getting points, and being a team captain on different teams.
"The American League has been great for me. I started in Grand Rapids, and from there, I moved down here in Providence.
"I’m extremely happy, and excited every day to come down to the rink and have this as my job."
And one of the bolded bullet points on that job description is mentor.
"One of the reasons why [Boston Bruins Assistant General Manager] Don [Sweeney] and the Boston Bruins brought me in here is to be that leader," said Tardif. "I was a young buck sitting on the bench there, and I had some great veterans help me along the way."
For the youngest of the P-Bruins, that help from Tardif has been invaluable.
"He’s a guy that’s pretty open and easy to talk to," said second-year pro Craig Cunningham. "This is his eighth year pro now, and he’s been through the ups-and-downs.
"He’s a great guy to have in the room, and a great guy to have on your team. He’s great with the young guys.
"Anything you want to ask, he’s there to talk to you."
That availability and experience has been a help to the Providence both on and off the ice.
"This year, he’s been injury-free, and very healthy," said P-Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. "It shows, on back-to-back games, he’s got a lot of legs, and he’s able to contribute on those nights, and the Sunday afternoon games when you’ve played Friday and Saturday.
"And we need the scoring," added the Providence bench boss. "There are a couple of other guys who haven’t found their game, or the puck is not going in for them. He’s a guy who has been consistent since day one."
That item remains a key point in any of Tardif's nuggets of wisdom.
"The biggest thing is just staying consistent," he emphasized. "Don’t get too high. If things are going well, they can turn in a hurry for you. So maintaining being positive, but staying consistent, and don’t let the lows get too low.
"It’s a long season, and for some of these guys, they have a very long career ahead of them."
But thankfully for the 2012-13 P-Bruins, Tardif has been in for the long haul and has appeared in all 22 of Providence's games.
"Last year, he had some injury trouble, and…we really missed him," said Cunningham. "This year, he’s playing great, he’s getting in front of the net and going to the dirty areas.
"He plays with a lot of leadership, he was a captain in Grand Rapids, and he’s been around the league for a long time.
"He’s my stall mate [in the locker room], so I like chatting with him all the time," added Cunningham. "He’s an older guy on our team, not necessarily in the league, but he’s a guy a lot of the young guys can look up to with Whitfield out of the lineup — just watching how he plays the game and shows up to the rink every day."
That's exactly what the B's were expecting when they brought Tardif to Boston before 2011-12.
"We knew the quality of person that he was and the character and leadership that he would bring to the table," said Sweeney. "I think you're seeing all of that this year.
"That's our hope and that's our intent that players that have been through the ups-and-downs and are still trying to fight their way to the NHL sets a great example for all of our players," continued the former B's defenseman. "Jaime's go a nice way about him where he can sort of grab a guy -- in not a mean spirited way -- and sort of get him to pull himself along through [problems] the way [Tardif's] doing things."
And Tardif's way continues to be a simple approach to hockey.
"Right now, we take it game-by-game," said Tardif of the P-Bruins recent run (7-2-0-1). "I’ve been in the league long enough to know that now, everyone is excited. All of a sudden, Christmas break is coming up, then you’re back for a month, and then you have three or four days off four the All-Star Break. And it’s that stretch after the All-Star break to the end of the season, which that’s the grind — game 40 to game 76.
"That’s where everything gets a little tougher, and your body gets banged up. Right now, we just have to stay on an even keel here, and get as many wins as we can right now, because at the end of the year, as we all know, it’s tough.
"But Right now, things are going good, but we still have a lot of hockey games left. We’re trying to stay consistent here, and keep getting the wins," he said.