Jeff Tambellini played in 242 NHL games but he never really had a breakout moment.
Jeff is the son of long time NHLer Steve Tambellini and grandson of Addie Tambellini of the famed Trail Smoke Eaters who won the world hockey championships for Canada in 1961. Jeff grew up in BC where Steve worked in management with the Vancouver Canucks. After starring with the Chilliwack Chiefs Jeff committed to attend the University of Michigan, studying kinesiology though, likely influenced by his dad, he had a longer term plan of studying sports management.
"From day one I had the option of choosing what I thought would be best for me to develop as a player and a person and the college route was best," he says. "You get your education and you are setting yourself up for a pretty good future.
" I would like to step right into the business and that is the plan, for sure. It is a great lifestyle. You can be in the game and be around the sport you love. So if I can find a way into a job like that it would be great."
We will have to wait and see if he ever steps into some sort of management role. A lengthy pro career ensued first.
Jeff was a first round pick (27th overall in 2003) of Los Angeles but he would only play 4 games with the Kings. He was traded to the New York Islanders with Denis Grebeshkov for Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel in 2006.
Tambellini impressed with his speed, shot and determination, but ultimately he was too undersized to stick in the NHL. In 5 seasons on Long Island, he only played one full season (scoring 7 goals and 15 points in 65 games). The rest of the time he starred with the Isles' farm team in Bridgeport where he was one of the AHL's best players. But at the NHL level he could never quite break through.
The Vancouver Canucks signed Tambellini for the 2010-11 season. The hometown boy proved to be an early season surprise. He teamed early with the Sedin twins to surprise opposing defenses with speed and offense. He also served as a shootout specialist. But as the season continued Tambellini found himself playing a 4th line role and then was a healthy scratch for much of the playoffs. While his ice time dwindled he still had his best season of his NHL career, scoring 9 goals and proving to be a solid two way NHL player.
”The minute I heard the Canucks made me an offer, it was a no-brainer and I didn’t even listen to anything else that came in,” said Tambellini.
Despite his progress, that would prove to be Tambellini's final season in the NHL. He sought security and stability, so he signed a lucrative 3 year contract with the ZSC Lions in Switzerland, the same team his father Steve played for late in his career.