Matt Taormina was looking for a fresh start.
He thinks he found one.
Taormina, a graduate of Romeo High School, signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Tampa Bay Lighting after spending the past two seasons in the New Jersey Devils organization.
“I think this is my best shot at getting back to the NHL,” said Taormina, who went undrafted. “I will be able to play my game there. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.
“If I start the season in Syracuse, that’s what I’ll have to do,” Taormina added. “I will have an opportunity there to play on the power play and in situations that I used to play in.”
Taormina, who also was contemplating a deal with the Detroit Red Wings, is back to a very familiar spot of having to prove himself again.
Despite having a fairly successful four seasons at Providence, Taormina was not drafted by an NHL team.
Then Taormina signed a one-year deal with the American Hockey League’s Lowell Devils.
Taormina had 10 goals and 40 assists, which led the team in his first year with the Devils. The parent club, the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, took notice, signing him to an extension.
After an impressive training camp, Taormina made the NHL franchise.
His fast track to the NHL may have been aided a bit by then Devils head coach John MacLean. MacLean was Taormina’s coach in Lowell the year before.
Just four games into Taormina’s rookie season in New Jersey he recorded his first point.
One game later, he had his first two-point night and also picked up his first NHL goal in the process. The goal came on the power play.
Two games later, he potted his second goal.
Through 17 games in his rookie season, Taormina had three goals and two assists.
Then, Taormina suffered a freakish injury in practice when teammate Mattias Tedenby landed awkwardly on his left ankle and he tore a couple ligaments.
Taormina had surgery and was placed on injured reserve, which ended his season.
Last year, New Jersey hired a new coach, Peter DeBoer, and Taormina began the season in the minors before getting a call up in December and played 30 games.
“There was a stint I didn’t play for 10 games and then the next two I played I felt I played pretty well,” Taormina said. “They had a lot of good guys and they probably didn’t think I could compete in their eyes. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
DeBoer led New Jersey to the Stanley Cup finals where the Devils lost in six games to the Los Angeles Kings.
“It was a tough decision to leave, but going to a different team gives me a fresh start,” said Taormina, who just wrapped up playing in the Eastside Elite Summer Hockey League run out of Mount Clemens Ice Arena. “I’m going to try and turn some heads in this organization as well.”
Taormina has played in 47 career NHL games and has four goals, eight assists with a plus-4 rating.
“I still want to be an NHL defenseman,” Taormina said. “I know I have some work and improving to do.”
In 199 career AHL games he has 18 goals and 53 assists.
Before turning professional, Taormina played in 141 games at Providence College where he did not miss a game. During his college career he recorded 20 goals and 45 assists.