Tynan a voice of reason for Chicago Wolves
T.J. Tynan stands at center ice.
Coming toward him is Grand Rapids forward Colin Campbell, who just scored a goal against Tynan's Chicago Wolves in Game 2 of the teams' opening-round series in the Calder Cup playoffs Saturday at the Allstate Arena.
As soon as Campbell ends his fist-bumping with teammates, he makes a bee line to Tynan and shoves the Wolves' 5-foot-9, 165-pound forward in the chest.
This bizarre scene played out because Tynan -- a fierce, fiery competitor who hails from Orland Park and attended Fenwick High School -- believed Campbell took his goal-scoring celebration a bit too far.
"I thought he said something to our goalie, and that's not OK in my book," Tynan said after the Wolves evened the best-of-five series at one game a piece with their 3-2 victory. "You leave the goalies out of it; you don't go and chirp.
"I asked him and he said it didn't happen. So it is what it is. I just wanted to stick up for the guy that takes all these pucks for us."
Game 3 is at Grand Rapids on Tuesday and figures to be just as intense than the first two contests. And you can bet Tynan -- and his mouth -- will be awfully involved.
Tynan's teammates learn quickly that if they make any silly, ridiculous or goofy statements, he's going to pounce.
"We're not the smartest kids out there, that's for sure," said linemate Keegan Kolesar, one of 14 Wolves who is 23 years old or younger. "He puts me in my place a lot times."
Not that Tynan means any harm. He's just busting chops and keeping things loose.
"I definitely get on those younger guys but never in bad faith," Tynan said. "They're all such great kids. We're very fortunate this year. … They're very talented on the ice, but off the ice they're really, really good people."
This is Tynan's fifth full season in the American Hockey League and his second with the Wolves. He won the Calder Cup in 2016 with the Lake Erie (now Cleveland) Monsters and was roommates with Blackhawks/Rockford IceHogs goalie Anton Forsberg.
Before that, Tynan played four seasons at Notre Dame and became close friends with former Blackhawks forward Vinnie Hinostroza.
"I fell in love with (Notre Dame) right away," Tynan said. "It kind of helped that my parents were both from the South Side of Chicago, and growing up they loved watching the football team. It was a great fit for me, and my four years there were incredible."
Tynan was taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third round of the 2011 draft, but he only played three games for them in 2016-17. Tynan signed with Vegas on July 1, 2017, and has played 141 games for the Wolves.
This season, the speedy, shifty forward led the AHL with 59 assists and also added 12 goals.
Tynan is a big reason Kolesar (20 goals), Curtis McKenzie (20 goals) and Brandon Pirri (47 goals last two seasons) have filled the net so often for the Wolves.
"I credit all my success to him," Kolesar said. "He's a world-class passer. Whenever I'm out there with him, it's always get him the puck, let him make the play and be ready to shoot or go to the net hard."
Leader of the pack
He's reluctant to admit it, but the redheaded Tynan has been known to lose his mind when things don't go his way. Whether it's hockey, golf or cards, the 27-year-old wants to win at all costs.
"It's the group I hang out with -- a lot of hockey guys that I'm still really, really good friends with," Tynan said. "Sometimes it gets a little intense, but I think it's just ingrained in me."
Because of that, Tynan has stepped to the forefront this season to become one of the Wolves' vocal leaders. He grew into the role thanks in large part to how former teammates Ryan Craig and Jaime Sifers carried themselves in the Columbus organization.
"Those guys, they taught me a lot," Tynan said. "I got to see them for three years. … Being one of the oldest people on the team, it's been a change, but it's been a lot of fun."
Most fans have never heard of Craig or Sifers, both of whom are in their mid-30s and played in a combined 1,362 AHL games.
That could be Tynan's path as well -- a talented player who enjoys a long, solid minor-league career. And while the goal obviously is to still reach the NHL, one thing is for sure: Tynan has immensely enjoyed these two seasons in Chicago.
"Parents, family, friends get to see me play," Tynan said. "I'm not that far away from downtown where a lot of my friends have settled down and they work down there. I can go have dinner in the city, catch up.
"I don't think a lot of guys can say that they can do that on an off-day. I've been very fortunate the past couple of years to be able to do that."
As for the NHL?
"I mean that's the goal, obviously," Tynan said. "I don't think anyone that says otherwise is telling the truth, right? But I don't think you should think about (that).
"It's just more try to improve your game as best as you can and try to be the best player that you can. Hopefully the pieces fall in the right place."
By the numbersT.J. Tynan's career stats
Season, team GP G A Pts.
2014-15, Spr'field 75 13 35 48
2015-16, Lake Erie 76 6 40 46
2016-17, Cleveland 72 12 29 41
2017-18, WOLVES 70 15 45 60
2018-19, WOLVES 71 12 59 71
Totals 364 58 208 266
Notes: Springfield, Lake Erie and Cleveland were all Columbus' AHL affiliate
Tynan played 3 games for the Blue Jackets in 2016-17