The Phoenix Coyotes newest goalie prospect, Josh Tordjman, may be far from home and in a whole new environment, but hockey in the desert is the same as hockey back home. Growing up in the small town of Kirkland, Quebec, Tordjman followed in the footsteps of the rest of the locals, working his way up through minor hockey and eventually to the QMJHL.
After splitting the 2002-03 season between the Victoriaville Tigres and junior AAA, Tordjman finally caught on with the Tigres full-time the following season. He would maintain the leading role up until December of the 2005-06 season, until the Moncton Wildcats made the push to obtain his services.
Changing sweaters, Tordjman continued to elevate his game and help push Moncton to the forefront of the QMJHL. The Wildcats went on to take the league crown and make it into the Memorial Cup Finals, where they fell short to the Quebec Remparts.
Even though he closed his junior career just short of taking home Canada’s ultimate junior hardware, the consolation prize was waiting in the wings. As the NHL’s free agency period opened on July 1, the Phoenix Coyotes made an offer for the 21-year-old netminder, which was accepted.
Over the past weekend, Hockey’s Future caught with Tordjman, who was skating at the Coyotes first ever prospects conditioning camp, at the Desert Schools Coyotes Center in Peoria. He talked about moving up the ranks, his junior career, signing with the Coyotes and what the future has in store.
HF: What was it like to move up and join the Q? What were you first impressions back then?
JT: Early on, I didn’t really have a goalie coach. My dad was on the ice and he knew his stuff about goaltending. The league really defined what I needed to work on. It helped me understand my strengths and discover what I need to work on so I could get better.
HF: What were your first few years like with Victoriaville?
JT: Lots of shots. I always watched a lot of games growing up, so I always took a lot of perspective from the goaltenders of the NHL. When I was in Victoriaville, I was like in a situation like Roberto Luongo. You’ve got to go out and make 40 saves a game and try to steal games. I like situations like that a lot.
HF: What were some of the differences you noticed when you came to Moncton about halfway through last season?
JT: Well it’s the same kind of puck you have to stop. When you start the season, you set objectives for yourself. Then halfway through the year the objectives changed when I got traded. The goal was trying to get to the top and stay there and try to win in the playoffs and win both cups.
HF: You went through two NHL drafts without being selected. Even though it was probably frustrating, were you able to use it a more motivation to succeed?
JT: Yes, for sure. When I was 17 years old, I came into the league and played half the year. My objective obviously was to get looked at and noticed a bit by the scouts. If I was going to get drafted that year, it was going to be tough because I spent a lot time down in junior AAA. Disappointment is one thing, but you have to move on. I think every year you have something to prove and I proved it at 18 and I was on the list. Once again, I didn’t get drafted, I was a little disappointed but you have to come back and try just a little harder. I had a better year at 19. Every year is the moving on from here. Going on, you have to prove more and more every year.
HF: Did you change your approach and style to the game to try to find a right combination?
JT: Not really. I was working with the same goalie coach for three and a half years in Victoriaville and working on the same things. We fixed little parts of my game to make things go better, but overall, I don’t think too much was changed through my fours years.
HF: Did you have any indication that Phoenix was interested in you?
JT: I would say more towards the end of the season when we got closer to the Memorial Cup. It’s a big spotlight for the junior players and nowadays it’s pretty big for the guys. I knew there were a few teams interested and that Phoenix was one of them.
HF: What was it like leading up to the signing period?
JT: I got a call from my agent. He said that Saturday (July 1) was the first day something could happen. He told me to be ready and if anything were to happen, it would be around 11:00am. I was kind of hoping it would come. Then my agent called again and I was excited. He told me that I was coming to Phoenix.
HF: You sign and head out to the camp. Did you have any butterflies?
JT: No, not really. It was just a conditioning camp where you get to know everybody and to work as hard as you can. You’re going to learn a lot of things but you’re not going to get into shape in one week.
HF: Did you have any expectations coming into the camp?
JT: Once you sign that contract, you’ve got one foot in the door and then you want to get through all the way. Knowing that I still have a lot to work for, my objectives were set really high.
HF: How important was it for you to come to the camp?
JT: It’s very important for everyone to be here. The week taught me a lot about training and the sacrifices you have to make to want to become a pro. You grow up trying your best, but once you see these guys and understand what they go through on a daily basis, it’s a great wake-up call and it gives you the opportunity to understand what it takes to become a professional hockey player.
HF: What was it like to put on a Coyotes sweater and skate for the club this week?
JT: It’s a great achievement for me and an honor to be a part of a professional hockey club. From what I’ve seen, it’s unbelievable the way everything is set up and the way it’s well organized.
HF: What are your goals moving forward?
JT: To get up to the American Hockey League and to continue to work my way up the ranks. It’s not a race to see who gets there first. To me, it’s a process and that’s what I think the club sees in it too. Obviously, I need to get bigger and stronger and finally make a good run at it.
HF: You’ve worked to get what you’ve earned so far. Are you ready and comfortable to face your next step or challenge?
JT: I’ve cherished every moment that it took me to get up to where I’m at. I think the mental part of my game helps me the adversity. I learned that growing up and I’m ready for the next step.
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