From the time Christian Thomas was born until he turned 12, he lived in five different cities.
At least that’s what he remembers.
As the son of an NHL player, Thomas and his family grew accustomed to frequent moves and a seemingly constant change of schools. It’s just the way life is for an NHL family.
“Our home base was always Toronto, but I also lived in Long Island, New Jersey, Chicago and Anaheim,” he said. “It’s tough to remember them all.”
Thomas’ father, Steve, played in the NHL for 20 years, from 1985 to 2004, suiting up for six different teams. The elder Thomas appeared in 1,235 NHL games, scoring 421 goals, 933 points and also added 54 goals in 174 playoff games.
Needless to say, hockey dominated the Thomas household, and Christian’s childhood.
“I look back at it now and it’s cool, but back then, having a dad that played 20 years in the NHL, I think I took it for granted,” he said. “I was always around it and it made me love the game.”
Thomas isn’t the only Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin whose family roots run deep in the NHL. Jarred Tinordi’s father, Mark, spent 12 years in the NHL, from the late 1980s until retiring after the 1998-99 season. A physical defenseman, Mark Tinordi played in 663 games and logged 1,514 penalty minutes. He also appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals twice, including 1991 as a member of the Minnesota North Stars squad that lost to Pittsburgh.
While Jarred Tinordi was only 7 when his father retired, he said his father’s career is what propelled him to become a hockey player.
While Tinordi doesn’t remember watching his father play, he said there are elements of his game that he tries to replicate.
“I watch the old clips of him playing, and he was tough and physical and could also contribute some offense too,” Tinordi said. “That’s something I try to be as well.”
While Steve Thomas and Mark Tinordi never played on the same team, they did have some battles on the ice. The fought each other in the 1995-96 season and again in 1996-97.
Such battles weren’t uncommon in the 1990s as fighting was more prevelant. In fact, many elements of the game were different back then, but Jarred and Christian have different feelings on if they would’ve benefited by playing in the era that their fathers played.
“I remember my dad talking about the game he used to play and how you might have to fight a few times a night,” Jarred said. “Maybe it would be nice if they allowed some of the grabbing and holding they did back then. If they eased up on those rules it would be a little easier on the big guys.”
The younger Tinordi is no stranger to dropping the gloves, either, but would he like to do it as much as players did in the 1990s?
“I don’t know about that. There were some pretty tough customers back in the day,” he said.
Christian Thomas feels today’s game is more suited to his style of play, which is based on speed and offense. He said the game of his father’s era is completely different than today.
“When he puts on some tapes of his goals and fights, it’s pretty funny to imagine the amount of penalties there would be in today’s game,” Christian said. “It was a different game, but it impresses me that he was a smaller guy who still figured it out, wasn’t scared to fight and could score some goals.”
One thing that Tinordi and Thomas both agree on is how special it was to be the first members of their family to get drafted by an NHL team. Tinordi was Montreal’s first-round pick in 2010, while Thomas was taken by New York in the second round of the same draft.
Despite their long and accomplished careers, neither the elder Tinordi or Thomas were draft picks.
“It must’ve been a cool experience for him. To see your son be drafted has to be special for a parent,” Tinordi said.
“My father sat next to me at the draft when my name was called,” Christian said. “That was probably one of the greatest moments of my career so far.”