NEWARK – Few people have ever been as excited to make a trip to New Jersey as Jarred Tinordi.
This time last year, Tinordi was preparing to lead his London Knights into the OHL playoffs. Just 55 games into his professional career and he’s already earned a chance to prove he’s ready to take the next step.
Three days after being called up from the Bulldogs late Wednesday night, Tinordi will suit up for his first NHL game against the Devils. If the super-sized blue-liner was feeling nervous ahead of his big debut, he certainly wasn’t showing it.
“He seems confident. That’s a good quality of his; he’s always had the confidence you need to play at the highest levels,” shared Michel Therrien following his team’s morning skate at the Prudential Center. “I’m sure about a half hour before game time, those nerves are going to kick in a little bit, but they’ll be good nerves.
“He’s going to be excited,” added the Habs head coach, who has also given rookies Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk and Greg Pateryn a chance to don an NHL jersey for the first time this year. “It’s a big day for him, his family and friends. He deserves to be here. He’s been playing well in Hamilton. He has to just keep things simple and we need to put him in situations where he’ll be comfortable.”
While he’s only had a few days to learn the ropes in the big leagues, Tinordi can count on having one of the team’s most boisterous cheering sections at The Rock. Among the seven or eight of his biggest fans who will be on hand to watch him realize a childhood dream will be former NHL defenseman/proud father Mark Tinordi.
“[My dad] is really excited,” admitted Tinordi, whose father scored his first NHL goal against the Devils on December 26, 1987. “He brought me up in hockey and this is a big moment for me, but it’s a big moment for him, too. I’ve played in Montreal for a few exhibition games, but obviously that’s not the same. It’s nice to be a little closer to home for my first game because it makes it easier for my family and friends to be here for it.”
The Burnsville, MD native will also be able to count on the tutelage of another experienced NHL veteran when he hits the ice on Saturday night, set to flank Francis Bouillon on the Habs blue line. After just a few short lessons, he’s already learned the secret to success in the NHL isn’t as complicated as it seems.
“I think the biggest thing for me is to try to keep it simple and just play the game that got me to this point,” explained the penalty killing specialist. “I’m pretty excited. Obviously I’ll be a little nervous before the game but that’s a good thing sometimes. It’s good to have some butterflies in your stomach; it keeps you honest out there.”
Having taken part in just two practices with the Habs since his call-up, Tinordi knows he still has a lot to learn. But when it comes to dishing out advice to the young blue-liner, the last thing the Canadiens’ veterans are interested in discussing are Xs and Os.
“Gorgie [Josh Gorges] said to me this morning, ‘You don’t remember a lot of games, but you always remember your first’,” he shared. “All the guys have been great with me, helping me out. I’m just trying to soak up this experience.”