When former Newfoundland Growlers rearguard Sam Jardine first arrived on the foggy shores of Newfoundland and Labrador in February of 2019, he wasn’t in a good place.
The Lacombe, Alberta native had just been sent down to the ECHL from the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies. After having spent months getting used to a new city and new teammates in Toronto, all of a sudden, he found himself practically deserted with very few familiar faces on an island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.
“To put it as plainly as possible, I was just devastated,” Jardine said of his being sent to the Growlers.
“It buried me emotionally. It was very difficult for me to get up and play with the emotion that I need to in order to do well.”
The tenacious Jardine made an important decision to ignore the negatives and simply embrace the opportunity in front of him. Lucky for him, he landed in a locker room and in a city that would immediately embrace him back.
“If it were not for the power of the team and the personalities in the room with the Growlers, I just don’t know if I would have been able to do it,” Jardine said.
“In the end, I didn’t even do it for myself or any accomplishment. I only did it because of the love that was shown to me by the guys in the locker room and the coaching staff. That was the reason.”
But it wasn’t just the team inside the locker room that helped Jardine through his tough times. Away from the rink, Jardine found solace in St. John’s vibrant local music scene, which even inspired a new hobby, one that stays with him to this day as a member of the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits.
“We were obviously going out and going to Greensleeves and listening to Damian Follett all the time,” Jardine explained.
“I’ve always loved live music. Getting into that intimate setting that Newfoundland provides, with the music scene, really motivated me to play a lot of guitar. I’ve done a little bit of writing too. It’s been a good way to creatively get your mind away from hockey. It’s become a really neat passion of mine.”
And he hasn’t stopped playing and writing since.
The summer immediately following the Growlers’ historic Kelly Cup win, Jardine was set to attend his sister’s wedding back home in Alberta and volunteered his newly-honed musical talents for the occasion.
“It was in Newfoundland where the writing all started,” Jardine remembers.
“The first song that I ever wrote was this playful little song that just came to me. I wrote the thing in ten minutes, maybe less. I ended up singing it at their wedding. There’s two verses and a chorus and it’s supposed to be funny and thankfully some people laughed. I decided to bring my big brother up to help me sing it. I took the first verse and he took the second and we sang the chorus together. It was a hit.”
The good vibes and positivity only continued to roll in the months that followed.
He earned another gig and performed for his good friend and Ottawa Senators sniper Ryan Dzingel at his wedding.
When he moved overseas to play for Cardiff in the EIHL, not only did he have a great season, he managed to complete his bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University but also his Masters at Cardiff.
Fast forward to this season, Jardine has evolved into one of the ECHL’s top offensive players in Greenville playing alongside fellow former Growler Matt Bradley. He’s at or near the top of the leaderboard for most major statistical categories among defensemen, and currently ranks inside the top 20 in points in the entire league.
Even with two new degrees in his back pocket, Jardine remains committed to climbing the ranks and taking the next steps of his hockey journey.
The sky is the limit for the multi-talented Jardine. He himself is unsure of where the journey may take him next, but one thing is for sure: he will be bringing his guitar and his love of music, all inspired by the city that first captured his heart.
“This city taught me about uniqueness and personality and being true to what you know and who you are,” Jardine said.
“St. John’s is unlike any other place in the entire world and the people there fully embrace that. It’s a good lesson for myself and your own personality to kind of figure out who you are and find your own quirks and your uniqueness and embrace that. Go about your business with some pride in who you are. St. John’s does that.”