- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Longtime minor leaguer Jamie Tardif was informed late Thursday night that he would have an opportunity to make his NHL debut for the Boston Bruins on Saturday night in his hometown of Toronto.
With the injuries to Bruins’ forwards Shawn Thornton (concussion) and Daniel Paille (upper body) during Boston’s 7-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, the Bruins decided to recall Tardif from their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. The 28-year-old forward practiced with the team on Friday and traveled to Toronto in preparation for Saturday’s Northeast Division game at Air Canada Centre.
“He’s good. I liked him a lot,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “He can shoot the puck. He’s second in the league in goals scored and it doesn’t surprise me because he has a really good shot. Not only that, he’s a hard worker and he works hard both ways, he’s a good forechecker, a good backchecker, he competes hard all the time. It’s nice to see those guys get rewarded for putting all those years in the minors and finally getting a chance to play in the NHL. For him, there’s no doubt in my mind he’s earned it. Certainly, he was the right choice to bring in for us.”
When asked if Tardif would be in the lineup Saturday, Julien said: “More than probably. There’s a good chance he’ll be in.”
At the time of his recall, Tardif was the leading scorer for the P-Bruins with 21 goals and nine assists for 30 points in 39 games. His 21 goals also ranks second overall in the AHL. He also participated in the AHL All-Star festivities last weekend at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence.
Tardif is a veteran of 415 career games in the AHL with Manitoba, Iowa, Grand Rapids and Providence. He spent the majority of his career in Grand Rapids from 2006 to 2011. He signed with the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent in July of 2011 and has played the last two seasons in Providence.
Now he’s on the verge of playing in the NHL.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Tardif said. “I’ve been waiting for a chance like this for a while. I’m going into my eighth year of being a pro, so I’m just fortunate and at the same time excited to go back to my hometown of Toronto. It’s definitely exciting.”
Even though he’ll be playing in front of family and friends, he’s hoping to keep his mindset and game plan as normal as possible.
“I just need to stay focused, be relaxed and take it all in,” he said. “I’m sure going back to Toronto is going to add a lot of excitement, but at the same time if I get in the lineup, just play my game and do what I’ve done all year to have some success down in Providence and carry that up here to Boston.”
13dJoe McDonald and Kyle Brasseur