Hockey DayBruins beat Toronto again, this time with underdog Jamie Tardif
By Tim Wharnsby
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 | 12:05 PMBack to accessibility links
Supporting Story Content
End of Supporting Story ContentBack to accessibility links
Beginning of Story Content
Even a narrow 1-0 defeat to the Boston Bruins does not sit well with the faithful of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
How could it? A Bruins visit to the Air Canada Centre always represents a reminder of what could have been for Maple Leaf fans, and usually a loss to commiserate over. Boston, after all, has gone a dominant 13-2-3 in their last 18 trips to Toronto.
It's always: what if the Maple Leafs didn't give up those two first-round picks for Phil Kessel? How good would a pair of building blocks like Tyler Seguin and defenceman Dougie Hamilton, who played his first game against Toronto on Saturday, look in blue and white?
Hamilton and Seguin were the draft picks the Bruins used from the Kessel trade. Another one that got away to the division rivals was goalie Tuukka Rask, dealt to Boston from the Maple Leafs in exchange for Andrew Raycroft seven years ago. The 25-year-old Rask now has gone 7-1-0 against Toronto after his 21-save shutout. How good would the Maple Leafs be with him in goal?
With Hamilton and Rask as their No. 1 netminder, the balanced Bruins are Stanley Cup contenders once again. But like any elite team they will have to stay healthy. They beat the Maple Leafs without third-line forward Daniel Paille and important fourth-line leader Shawn Thornton on Saturday.
Special night for Tardif
But the absence of the two veterans opened the door for 28-year-old Jamie Tardif to play his first NHL game after more than 450 minor-league regular season and playoff games.
Tardif only hopped over the boards for eight shifts and 5:30 of ice time in his debut effort, but he did have a couple scoring chances in the second period. Besides, just pulling on No. 68 with the spoked B logo on the front made this night special for those who know his steadfast story.
He and his centre Jordan Staal helped the Peterborough Petes with the 2005-06 OHL championship. But the Welland, Ont. native never did sign with the Calgary Flames, the team that selected him in the fourth round of the 2003 NHL entry draft.
Instead, he eventually hooked up with Detroit Red Wings AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. But there was no room for advancement in that organization. So after five seasons with Grand Rapids, Tardif had his hope renewed after the Bruins came calling.
Then, on Thursday evening, while on the bus with his Providence teammates, head coach Bruce Cassidy came to the back of the bus to tell Tardif he had been promoted.
"I always tried to stay positive," Tardif said. "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."
His skating was the skill that held Tardif back. But he's right. He did make an impression on head coach Claude Julien and the Bruins management team during the lockout. He has a scoring touch. He has grit. He has determination.
He also had inspiration in former NHLer-turned-personal trainer Aaron Downey. While working out in Downey's barn in Shelburne, Ont., the past few summers, Downey kept telling his client to keep pushing because you never know.
Downey didn't play his first NHL game until age 25 and went on to play 243 games with the Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens and Red Wings.
"He's been my inspiration," said Tardif, who played a season with Downey in Grand Rapids. "He's helped my development and he has kept me focused on the right things. I can't thank him enough."
When Tardif was asked if he knew his old junior stomping grounds in Peterborough was the site of next week's Hockey Day in Canada he admitted he didn't know about the celebration.
"Isn't that something?" he said. "I hope I'm still with the Bruins when it happens."
End of Story ContentBack to accessibility links
Story Social Media
End of Story Social Media
Latest NHL Stories
- Jaromir Jagr scores 750th NHL goal
- Jaromir Jagr reached another career milestone on Thursday night. The 44-year-old Florida Panthers winger scored his 750th goal against the Washington Capitals. more »
- Eric Staal leads Wild past Leafs
- Recent signing Eric Staal scored twice and the Minnesota Wild recovered from another deficit to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Thursday night. more »
- Oilers beat Blues in Yakupov's return to Edmonton
- Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist as the Edmonton Oilers won their second game in a row in a strong start to the season, defeating the St. Louis Blues 3-1 on Thursday. more »
- Nail Yakupov gives Oilers fans a taste of what they're missing
- Nail Yakupov is back in Edmonton but this time he's wearing a St. Louis Blues uniform. more »
Top Sports Stories
- Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate America
- Watch live coverage of Skate America in Chicago beginning on Friday at 8 p.m. ET as Canada's Gabrielle Daleman competes against some of the best in the world in the women's short program at the first major event of the figure-skating season. more »
- Road to the Olympic Games premieres Saturday
- Season Two of CBC's Road to the Olympic Games premieres Saturday with Skate America coverage taking centre stage. The first event of the Grand Prix season features Canadians Gabby Daleman, Nam Nguyen, Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau. more »
- Seguin & Bilodeau could be Canada's next figure skating stars
- The start of a new figure skating season means it's time to discover new stars. CBC Sports' Pj Kwong offers up Canada's Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau, who are climbing the pairs ranks. Watch the live stream of Skate America on cbc.ca beginning at 8 p.m. ET Friday. more »
- How the Jays could replace Bautista, Encarnacion
- With the season just barely over, Blue Jays fans already want to know what’s going to happen with impending free agents Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. And if one or both don’t come back, how could they be replaced? more »
Send Your Feedback
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?