Jordin Tootoo Is Hungry for More Playoff Success

NHLPAContributor IIIJanuary 25, 2012

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 16:  Jordin Tootoo #22 of the Nashville Predators skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on January 16, 2012 in Uniondale, New York. The Predators defeated the Islanders 3-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

How do you follow up an impressive playoff performance in 2010-11? For Jordin Tootoo, it’s come in the form of an equally strong showing in the 2011-12 NHL regular season.  

After scoring one goal, along with six points and utilizing his trademark physical style over 12 post-season games for the Nashville Predators last year, Tootoo, drawing closer to 500 games of NHL service, made sure he kept the momentum going into the current campaign.

“When I came into training camp this year, I was focused and ready to step up my game,” said the 98th overall selection by the Predators in 2001. “I was committed to taking certain steps to be a professional away from the game and that’s one area I really worked on. I’ve had to deal with different situations throughout my career and I came in to camp in the right state of mind.”

The end result has been one of Tootoo’s best seasons since he started his NHL career on October 9, 2003, the night he became the first player of Inuit descent to play in a regular season NHL game.

He’s already surpassed his previous mark for points in a season (18), while contributing solid play in both the offensive and defensive zones.

Tootoo might have revved up his game, but that’s the opposite of how he’s viewing his time on the ice.

“The game seems to have slowed down a second for me, where I’m more aware than ever of what’s going, what’s unfolding and what’s happening out there,” said Tootoo, “It’s totally different for me now. I guess you can say that it’s been long time coming, but I’m embracing everything. I just want to contribute to the team.”

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 7:  Steve Mason #1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets makes a save on Jordin Tootoo #22 of the Nashville Predators during the game at Nationwide Arena on October 7, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio.  The Predators defeated the Blue Jackets 3-2.  (P
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

For the 28-year-old, preparation begins long before the drop of the puck.

“It all starts in practice for me,” said Tootoo, who played for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL) from 1999 to 2003. “I want to take what I do from there and be ready for any situation that comes up in a game. I want to work on my two-on-one skills, skating, everything.”

Tootoo has reaped the rewards of his commitment, part of a Nashville squad eager to go further than they did in last year’s playoffs, losing in six games to the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference semifinals.

“We’re hungry to go deeper,” said the right winger. “But we are taking it one game at a time. We enjoy the wins because life is a lot more exciting when you’re playing well, but you also look at the standings and realize that a few losses can take you from fifth spot and put you in twelfth.

“We’re a group that has bought into the system the coaching staff has given us. We play as a group and we don’t depend on one person to make a difference. That’s our philosophy when we suit up for games. We know there will be ups and downs, but we’re ready to deal with whatever we have to. Every game is a playoff game for us and I like that.”

For Tootoo, he takes none of them for granted.

“It’s an honour and there's a lot of a pride for me to put that jersey on every night,” said Tootoo, who has 10 points in 36 post-season games. “What the team and my teammates have done for me both personally and professionally, I’m very grateful.”

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 24:   Shane O'Brien #55 of the Nashville Predators congratulates teammate Jordin Tootoo #22 on scoring a goal against the Anaheim Ducks on March 24, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

He’s also more confident in his abilities than ever before.

“That’s huge and that’s how I feel,” offered Tootoo. “When I go out there, I’m ready to play. It’s nice to get points, but it’s even more rewarding when the team gets those valuable two points. I’m happy with how things have gone for us. I hope it gets even better.”

With Tootoo on top of his game, there’s every reason to believe it will.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Related Content

Joffrey Lupul Is Keeping The Leafs In The Playoff Loop
Patric Hornqvist Finally Catching Some Breaks as a Nashville Predators
500 Reasons To Smile for Jarome Iginla


    Emotional Murray Returns to Pens After Dad's Death

    NHL logo

    Emotional Murray Returns to Pens After Dad's Death

    Jonathan Bombulie

    MacKinnon: Duchene Trade Improved Culture 'A Lot'

    NHL logo

    MacKinnon: Duchene Trade Improved Culture 'A Lot'

    Mike Chambers
    via The Denver Post

    Golden Knights Are the Best Team in the NHL

    NHL logo

    Golden Knights Are the Best Team in the NHL

    Knights On Ice
    via Knights On Ice

    Longtime USA Hockey Exec Jim Johannson Dies at 53

    NHL logo

    Longtime USA Hockey Exec Jim Johannson Dies at 53

    Rachel Lutz
    via OlympicTalk