Tardif gets his NHL debut after paying his AHL dues


Tardif gets his NHL debut after paying his AHL dues

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.

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.