Tardif gets his NHL debut after paying his AHL dues

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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.

Bruins still in waiting mode on Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork

Bruins still in waiting mode on Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork

BRIGHTON, Mass – While the NHL debut for Charlie McAvoy is a matter of “when” rather than “if” at this point after agreeing to an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO) with the Boston Bruins, the jury is still out on Boston University center Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and University of Notre Dame winger Anders Bjork become pros. 

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney says that Forsbacka-Karlsson has yet to make a “final decision” on his status for next season after BU’s elimination from the NCAA hockey tournament, and Bjork is readying for the Frozen Four this weekend along with the rest of his Fighting Irish teammates. The 20-year-old Forsbacka-Karlsson just wrapped up his sophomore season with the Terriers and posted 14 goals and 33 points in 38 games with a plus-11 rating, and has not given the Bruins any firm word on his plans for the immediate future. 

The urgency perhaps isn’t there for the Bruins to lock things up with Forsbacka-Karlsson right this second, because he wouldn’t be a factor for this year’s NHL team. 

Meanwhile the Bruins can’t do anything with the 20-year-old Bjork until at least the end of next weekend, but have been mightily impressed with a player that’s posted 21 goals and 52 points in 38 games for Notre Dame this season. Bjork had three assists in the game that propelled Notre Dame into the Frozen Four, and there would be a great deal of urgency for the Bruins to lock up a talented forward that might be able to help them right now. 

“I’ve been able to see [Bjork] a few times including the regional [in New Hampshire] last weekend, and he was outstanding. He played every other shift, he set up goals in the game and he’s had a really nice progression as a college player this season,” said Sweeney of the explosive Notre Dame junior, who was far and away the best player at B's development camp last summer. “They’ve done a fabulous job with their team, and hopefully they get to the Finals on Saturday against Harvard, and we get the best of both worlds seeing how our prospects play in the final game. He’s had a tremendous college career to this point, and we’re excited about his development.”

McAvoy is the front-burner issue for the Bruins at this point, but it would surprise exactly nobody if both Forsbacka-Karlsson and Bjork join him in Providence in the next couple of weeks as they wrap up their AHL season.