CRANBERRY TWP. — As the puck slid out to the blueline during the Pittsburgh Penguins’ scrimmage, Jarred Tinordi extended his stick and easily swatted it back into the zone.
Such a move isn’t difficult for a player like Tinordi, who is 6-6 and has a reach unrivaled by almost every player.
Tinordi, 25, signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh organization this summer after tenures with the Montreal and Arizona organizations. The former first-round draft pick with Montreal has faced many ups and downs in his five-year career, and now he’s hoping to find a home with the Pittsburgh organization.
Tinordi spent the first four years of his career with Montreal, bouncing between the NHL club and the minors. Being the top pick of a storied franchise like Montreal comes with its own set of expectations, but Tinordi said it didn’t impact him as a player.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the player they wanted me to be. I think that was in my head more than what the city or fans think,” he said. “I wanted to make them proud of me, but as far as pressure, I put it on myself.”
Tinordi’s time with Montreal ended in disappointing fashion. Injuries and a suspension resulted in lost playing time, and even though Tinordi made Montreal’s roster out of training camp, he was a healthy scratch for long stretches.
By the end of the 2015-16 season, Tinordi had only played 16 games between the AHL and NHL levels and was traded to Arizona.
Last season the big defenseman was healthy and he played in 64 games — all with Tuscon in the AHL, posting 11 points and 102 penalty minutes. While he would have preferred another shot in the NHL, Tinordi said he was just happy to play a full season again.
“It probably wasn’t where I wanted to be in the AHL, but at that point I needed a full season,” Tinordi said. “You need to develop in games and last year was huge for me. It reset me a little bit.”
In January during the 2014-15 season, Tinordi had to endure another reset while playing with Hamilton in the AHL when he suffered a concussion during a fight with Utica’s Andrey Pedan. Physical play and a willingness to drop the gloves were the keys to Tinordi’s game, so many wondered if the incident would make him hesitant to fight again.
“It was just another day,” Tinordi said. “I got caught with a punch. I’ve been in many fights before that when things went my way. It’s a risk you take and when I got back I played my game again.”
For a player of his size, Tinordi knows that physical play is what can set him apart while competing for a job. He said there are fewer players playing a physical game in today’s hockey and it’s a job he’s willing to do.
But there are other aspects that Tinordi knows he needs display, and he’s worked to refine those elements.
“The game is about speed today and that’s been a big focus for me,” he said. “It’s one element. Right now I need to find my game, to play my game and just look one day ahead.”
After a long stint with Montreal and a season in the Arizona organization, Tinordi is ready to find a home again. During the first week of Pittsburgh’s training camp he likes what he has seen and is optimistic this can be the place.
“The system is similar to what we played in Montreal and the players and fans have been very welcoming,” Tinordi said. “I’ve been on other teams where guys are a little bit reserved and it’s hard to crack through. But this organization has been awesome.”