MONTREAL – The Canadiens traded away a king-sized blue-liner a few weeks ago, but there’s already a towering prospect waiting in the wings to replace him.
Having just celebrated his 20th birthday, Jarred Tinordi has spent the past few weeks enjoying his last moments of Junior hockey. A pillar on the London Knights’ blue line for the past few years, the Burnsville, MN native has a bright future ahead in the pros, but not until he takes care of some unfinished business first.
“We only have a couple games left in the regular season and we want to finish strong in those last games to be ready for the first round of the playoffs,” explained Tinordi of his OHL-leading Knights. “Obviously everyone wants to go to the Memorial Cup and win that, but we’re trying not to look too far ahead. It’s going to be a battle; everybody is pretty close.”
Named captain at the start of the 2011-12 campaign, the 6-foot-7 defenseman has relished his job leading the Knights to the top of the standings. Tinordi hasn’t disappointed, bringing his game to another level while enjoying more ice time than ever this season.
Stats may not always tell the whole story, but there are still some that are impossible to ignore. After finishing last year with a minus-16 differential, Tinordi bounced back to lead the OHL with a plus-41. The son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi, Jarred knows his success hasn’t happened by accident.
“The biggest thing for me is I improved a lot last summer. Going to a pro camp, there are lots of valuable things you can use when you come back,” shared Tinordi, who was selected in the first round by the Habs at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
“I’ve been talking to people in Montreal throughout the season and they’ve seen me play,” he added. “They’ve seen the areas I’ve worked on and the ones I need to keep improving on. It’s a never ending process; there’s always room for improvement.”
Part of his learning curve this season included adapting to a new coach in London mid-year when Dale Hunter left to coach the Washington Capitals in November. The Knights kept it in the family behind the bench, promoting Dale’s brother Mark from assistant coach to keep the ship afloat. The change helped give Tinordi a little taste for what his future could hold.
“I know Mark still talks to Dale in Washington all the time. Dale is helping us out with stuff they’re using in the NHL,” explained Tinordi of his early NHL apprenticeship. “Obviously it’s two different personalities for us between Mark and Dale, but their coaching style is the same. For me, personally, it hasn’t changed much. I’ve kind of been relied on a little bit more this year compared to last year since I’m an older guy on a pretty young team.”
After an appearance at the World Junior Hockey Championships, a probable regular season title and what is poised to be a deep run to the Memorial Cup this spring, the next step for the young blue-liner will be cracking his first pro roster next year. The question is: Will Tinordi be making his professional debut in Hamilton or Montreal?
“I hope Montreal! The goal is to play in the NHL. Right now, I’m focused on finishing up this season with the Knights,” he stressed. “Then it’s going to be a tough summer of working out and getting ready for next September’s training camp. That’s the goal and I’ll work towards that.”
Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.
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