Dec. 3, 2010
by Kyle Kujawa - griffinshockey.com
This weekend, Jamie Tardif will hit two important milestones. On Saturday, he will appear in his 263rd game as a Griffin, passing Evan McGrath (262) and moving into eighth place on the team’s all-time games played list. Meanwhile, Sunday’s contest will mark Tardif’s 300th as a pro. In addition, he enters the weekend with five points in his past three games, tying his career best point streak.
Headed into the month of December, the Griffins’ captain is focused on the bigger picture.
“The only performance I really look at is how our team’s doing,” said Tardif.
“We would like to be at the top,” he continued. “We know how good we can play, it’s just a matter of doing it every night.”
The Griffins have a chance to continue to climb up the North Division standings, as 12 of their next 15 games will be at Van Andel Arena.
“It’s definitely important. Our home record this year has been terrible, to be honest,” the 25-year-old said. “It will be a great test, and we can put ourselves in a really good situation going into Christmas break.”
Tardif, in his second season wearing the ‘C’ for Grand Rapids, sits second on the team with seven goals. He credits his early season success to his work ethic.
“I like to think I more so ‘lead by example’ and control things in the room,” Tardif explained. “At the same time, I want to make sure I’m working my hardest in the games and practices.”
Head coach Curt Fraser has high praise for Tardif’s play through the first two months.
“Tardif has been our best player every night,” said Fraser. “This guy – when things go bad, he battles harder. He’s just got to find a way to get some of our other players to jump on his back and get playing just like he does.”
Tardif was quick to credit the other veterans, like Greg Amadio, Doug Janik, Chris Minard and Jamie Johnson in helping him lead the young Griffins team.
“They are very vocal and they command a lot of respect in the room,” said Tardif.
The Welland, Ontario native explained the importance of keeping a positive perspective when the team is not achieving the results that it wants. He explained the importance of staying calm and getting other veteran players to follow suit.
“My job is hard at times, but it can also be easy at other times,” Tardif said. “When things are not going well, I've got to put away my emotions and think about what is best for the team. If the older, veteran players in the room start crumbling, it just filters through the whole team. As long as you are doing the best you can, others will follow.”
Staying calm and making the right plays on the ice is crucial, but the team’s attitude starts in the locker room. Tardif believes keeping a relaxed atmosphere in the room will lead to more success on the ice.
“I think our focus here is to keep the room as light as we can,” he said. “This is our job. If guys are not looking forward to coming to the rink every day, it would make their life pretty miserable. When you walk through these doors, you want to be happy here. You want to keep the atmosphere petty light, and have some fun. The guys enjoy that.”
While Tardif was quick to dismiss his recent personal success, he recognizes the significance of the milestones he will hit this weekend. Sitting at 298 games in his professional career, Tardif has been a full-time Griffin since the end of the 2006-07 season. Earlier that year though, he spent 34 games with Toledo of the ECHL, as well as three games in other AHL cities (one in Manitoba, two in Iowa), before landing his first AHL contract with the Griffins.
“That’s very special,” said Tardif. “I love this city and it has been a special thing to play here. Those games in Toledo definitely helped get my career going. It was a great experience getting started there, but I was able to get my chance with Grand Rapids, and now I've got to make the best of it.”
Thus far, playing in Grand Rapids has been the best thing for his career. He earned his first NHL contract by signing a two-year entry level deal with Detroit at the conclusion of the 2007-08 campaign, and then followed that up with a one-year extension entering this season.
It’s that consistency of remaining with teams throughout his career that Tardif prides himself on.
“I think more of an accomplishment is I've never been traded, never asked for a trade, never left teams throughout my career,” Tardif continued. “My whole junior career – five years – I played in one city.”
Tardif was a member of the Ontario Hockey League’s Peterborough Petes from 2001-06, where he still sits atop the games played list with 324.
It’s clear that Tardif understands his place in the Griffins’ record books, but come this weekend when he hits those milestones, he would certainly be happier to do it with a Griffins victory.
“It’s great to get points, but you know what? I’d like to get points and help our team win,” Tardif said.
Coach Fraser has been pleased with Tardif’s leadership this season because of his competitive nature. He hopes that his work ethic will rub off on some of the other players.
“It’s up to a lot of the other guys now to find a way to put out the effort that Jamie does every night,” said Fraser. “If they do that, they will be rewarded for it.”