📝 by Patrick Williams
Can T.J. Tynan become the 100th American Hockey League player to hit 100?
The veteran playmaker sits at 98 points (14 goals, 84 assists) through 61 games played with the Ontario Reign. If he can notch two more points in Ontario’s season finale April 30, he would become the 100th player in AHL history to record 100 or more points in a season.
Tynan went without a point in Saturday night’s 5-1 road loss to the Colorado Eagles, just the 11th time in his 61 games this season that has happened. The loss also ended Tynan’s 13-game point streak (three goals, 20 assists), the second-longest such streak in the AHL this season and one that had dated back to March 22. He has piled up 46 points in 27 games since Feb. 19, including 13 multi-point efforts.
Teamed up with an elite scoring ace in Martin Frk, Tynan has put together one of the most remarkable AHL single-season performances ever. His 84 assists are tied for the third-most in a season in AHL history; only George “Red” Sullivan of the 1953-54 Hershey Bears (with 89) and Jason Spezza of the 2004-05 Binghamton Senators (85) have recorded more.
Tynan also has been remarkably efficient and has put himself in sterling company in doing so. His 1.61 points-per-game average is the highest over a full AHL season in the last 15 years.
Regardless of whether he reaches 100 points, it has been another impressive season for the University of Notre Dame product. The three-time AHL All-Star was voted the league’s most valuable player with Colorado last season. He won the Calder Cup with the Lake Erie Monsters in 2016, and was a Cup finalist with the Chicago Wolves in 2019.
Now the Reign have one game remaining for Tynan to take one last run at 100 points, a road appointment with the Henderson Silver Knights next Saturday.
TheAHL.com sat down with Tynan to discuss his season.
ON WHAT HAS GONE SO RIGHT THIS YEAR
“For me, it’s just the people around me. We have a very talented team. We have had a lot of guys go up [to the Los Angeles Kings] and play well. We have a very talented group, and I’ve been very fortunate to play with [Frk] on the power play and five-on-five. I mean, he’s just a tremendous player.
“The coaches have been great, the staff [as well]. So just doing my job as best I can, and obviously our team’s played really well this year, so it’s been great.”
ON PLAYING WITH AN ELITE TALENT LIKE FRK
“I’m a pass-first guy. I like to create chances for my teammates, and for him, he’s got one of the best shots in the world. I mean, he’s just an extremely talented player. He works so hard every day, practice, games, and he’s a great guy as well. And for me, it’s just trying to get him in spots where he can let that shot off. It makes it easy when you know you can just throw it over there, and there’s a good chance it’s going in the net. He’s just an incredible player, so I’ve been very fortunate.
“I played against him a long time when he was in Grand Rapids. So it’s funny that we finally got to play together this year. And being a pass-first guy, and him having just an incredible shot, I think right away even in practice you could tell we were going to play well.”
ON HIS DECISION TO SIGN WITH LOS ANGELES LAST SUMMER
“I had some great conversations with people in the organization. [The Kings are] an exciting franchise right now. At the NHL [level] they’ve done great this year. It’s been fun to watch. And in Ontario, there are a lot of talented players.
“[Kings management is] just incredible to talk to. They’re honest, and always what players want to hear is the honesty. ‘They’re just great people,’ I thought. So for me, it seemed like the right fit and the right situation.”
ON HOW HIS GAME HAS EVOLVED AS A PRO
“I’ve just been trying to get better each day, and that [has been] kind of my focus, kind of like my whole life playing hockey.
“[I am] just very fortunate, to be honest. Some amazing coaches and amazing players. Every year I [have] just tried to be a sponge and pick up as much as I can. Obviously nutrition and training are always evolving. I try to keep up to it as best I can with that.
“But for me it’s just being a sponge, learning as much as I can, picking up and trying to adapt as best I can.”
ON WHERE HE FITS AT THIS STAGE OF HIS CAREER
“I think everyone in the AHL wants to be the NHL. That’s always been my goal, and that’s always what I’ve strived for. [But] it kind of is what it is with that stuff. Obviously, when I’m down, I’m still working as hard as I can each day being a leader and trying to give as much information to the younger guys as I can since I have been around for a few years now.
“Wherever I am, I’m grateful to play hockey for a living and get better each day. As long as you work hard and enjoy yourself each day at the rink, everything will work out.”
ON THE ONTARIO LEADERSHIP CORE
“I think we just have a good mix. We all have had different paths, and we’ve all had different careers. We just try to be on the same page.
“[Captain] Brett Sutter, with the family background and how long he’s been around, he’s one of the best guys in the game. For us, it’s just using the experience you’ve had. We’ve all come from different areas, different paths, so it’s kind of a good mix. I think just that mix has been good, and hopefully it’s been a help to the younger guys this year.”
ON PLAYING FOR THE ONTARIO COACHING STAFF
Head coach John Wroblewski took a personal leave from the team on Dec. 8, with assistant coaches Chris Hajt and Craig Johnson assuming interim head duties. On Mar. 11, it was announced that Wroblewski would not return.
“Obviously coming in like that [during the season] I’m sure wasn’t easy, especially in the AHL where there’s a lot of flux in your roster. There’s nothing quite like the AHL when it comes to your roster.
“[Hajt and Johnson], they’ve been great. I mean, they’ve been awesome, and I can’t say enough good things. It’s obviously tough to [take over] like that. But they’ve done a tremendous job, and we’ve been getting better each day, which is very exciting.”
ON RETURNING TO COLORADO TO FACE THE EAGLES THIS WEEK
“I could go on for hours about [Eagles head coach] Greg Cronin.
“I learned a tremendous amount. He’s such a great person, and he’s such a great teacher. It was a pleasure to be around him and learn so much. [Colorado is] a great place to play. I still have a lot of great friends [there], so it’s been great to see them. They obviously have a great team. I was on some great teams, and they still have a great team.
“Playing up with the [Colorado] Avalanche, you get to see all those talented players and be around them and learn from them just by watching. And then when you’re [with the Eagles], you have a great staff and Greg Cronin, who’s a great teacher. He’s a guy that tries to make everyone better each day, and that’s exactly what you want as a player.”
ON WHAT YOUNG KINGS PROSPECTS WILL LEARN PLAYING HIGH-PRESSURE GAMES IN THE CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS
“I mean, first of all, it’s going be a lot of fun. With COVID and the pandemic stuff going on, a lot of guys haven’t seen [it]… Obviously the intensity gets ramped up, and hopefully as hockey players that’s exactly what you want. You want the intense games. You want the fans there. You want the games to matter the most, right? So you want to be playing in June, and you want to be playing that last game of the season.
“So, just enjoy it and enjoy the intensity, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
ON LIVING AND PLAYING HOCKEY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
“I’ve always said it’s really tough to have a bad day when you can take your coffee and go for a walk on the beach after practice.
“It’s been amazing. You get up, the sun is shining, you go to the rink, come out, and it’s still beautiful outside. There are a million things to do. It’s Los Angeles, right? So anything you want to do, you can, and it’s been great.”
Patrick Williams has been on the American Hockey League beat for nearly two decades for outlets including NHL.com, Sportsnet, TSN, The Hockey News, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and SLAM! Sports. He was the recipient of the AHL’s James H. Ellery Memorial Award for his outstanding coverage of the league in 2016.