Two Bruins – rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton
and the newest Bruin, Jamie Tardif
, who was recalled from Providence Friday morning on an emergency basis – will be heading to their hometown of Toronto for the first time as members of the Black & Gold, when travel to face the Maple Leafs Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
For Tardif, it comes as a surprise. With the Bruins suffering multiple bumps and bruises during their 7-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night – their first regulation loss of the season – and the fact that Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille would not be making the trip, the B's recalled the 28-year-old Tardif from Providence on an emergency basis.
Tardif, who before being recalled was leading the Baby B’s in scoring with 21 goals (good for second in the AHL) and nine assists over 39 games and last week played in the AHL All-Star Game, practiced with Boston today in Wilmington.
He has yet to play an NHL game, but may get his shot at Air Canada Centre tomorrow night in front of friends and family. It has been a long time coming for Tardif, who is in his seventh season (and eighth calendar year) of playing in the AHL – including the last two with Providence.
“I think it’s great,” said the forward, following the B’s practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington on Friday. “I’ve been waiting for a chance at this for a while, I’m going into my eighth year pro, here, I’m just fortunate.
“At the same time, I’m excited, going back to my home town of Toronto, so it’s definitely very exciting.”
How many tickets will he have to conjure up? Once the word spreads that he’s been called up, Tardif is expecting to have to come up with quite a few.
“I don’t know, it happened late last night, so I’m sure by the time everyone finds out, I’m sure it will be a couple dozen ticket requests. Whether they get them or not, that’s a different story,” said Tardif, with a laugh.
Tardif is looking to make the most of the opportunity, if he should be inserted into the lineup tomorrow night - which B's Head Coach Claude Julien said is a very likely possibility. He’ll play the same way that has allowed him to tally 21 goals in Providence this season.
“I think just to stay focused and play relaxed, kind of take it all in,” said Tardif, who was signed by the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent in July of 2011. “I’m sure going back to Toronto is going to add a little excitement, but at the same time, if I get into the lineup tomorrow, I’ll just play my game. Do what I’ve done all year to have success down in Providence and carry that up here.”
Coach Julien “there's a good chance” that Tardif will play tomorrow, with Shawn Thornton and Danny Paille out with injury. The B’s bench boss also gave quite the scouting report of the former fourth round pick.
“Well, he’s good,” said Julien, after practice. “I liked him a lot. He can shoot the puck, and I think he’s second in the [AHL] in goals scored, and it doesn’t surprise me because he’s a really good. He’s got a really good shot.
“Not only that, but he’s a hard worker, works hard both ways. He’s a good fore checker. He’s a good back checker. He competes hard all the time, and 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.
“And, for him, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s earned it, and certainly he was the right choice to bring in for us.”
Hamilton will be making his first trek north to his native Toronto as an NHLer, as well, in front of what he said will be “just a few” family and friends. Boston’s new defenseman says he had a lot of favorite Maple Leafs growing up and is eager to play where he used to watch games as a fan.
“Just excitement I think,” said Hamilton, about what he’ll be feeling tomorrow night during his homecoming. “I grew up watching Leaf games in that rink and I’m going to be playing there and playing in the NHL.”
Hamilton has been somewhat of the Homecoming King back in Boston, seeing his popularity sky rocket with his tremendous play through the first seven games. He says he doesn’t mind it.
“I think I’m just going day by day just trying to enjoy myself and have fun, and I don’t mind the Dougie mania," he joked. "It’s okay with me.”