Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Tewsday Newsday And Notes

There's always talk about how players start with a clean slate when a new coach takes up residence behind the bench. There's chatter about new beginnings and opportunities that may not have been there before under the old regime. Teams often see a boost in their energy and work ethic after a coaching change as every player goes back to auditioning for more ice-time and great responsibilities. But did anyone expect the Winnipeg Jets to absolutely dominate the Phoenix Coyotes as they did last night after their recent stretch of uninspired play? We'll start there are we bounce through some news stories on Tuesday.

Sonic Boom

The Winnipeg Jets, despite giving up the first goal of the game to the Coyotes on the power-play, absolutely crushed the souls of the Coyotes last night in their 5-1 win on MTS Centre ice. Winnipeg out-worked, out-hustled, and out-everythinged the Coyotes en route to a fantastic night at the Phone Booth. Again, the change behind the bench could be a big reason why this team was out-gunning the Coyotes at every turn, but if this team needed an "identity", as Claude Noel would say, last night's game should be on permanent replay in the Winnipeg Jets' video room and dressing room.

That was easily the best game this team has played in months. In fact, maybe ever since arriving in Winnipeg. Everyone that stepped on the ice for the Jets should be proud of the effort they gave, and work towards replicating that effort going forward on a a daily basis. It is that kind of work ethic that will not only win games for this club, but win over a vast amount of fans in Winnipeg and across the hockey spectrum. Hard work can beat skill on any given night. That message was on full display last night as the Jets showed the willingness to work hard to generate chances.

I give Paul Maurice credit for adjusting things on the fly as he was regularly seen talking to players as they sat on the bench. He's an excellent coach, sees the game very well, and should be able to provide a lot of guidance to a young club. Credit should also go to former Jets coach Claude Noel. It was still his system that the Jets ran last night, and they showed that it does work if everyone puts in 100% effort. It's apparent that Noel couldn't get the most out of the players nor would the players give him everything, but the system worked last night flawlessly.

The Jets get a couple of days to work with Maurice before arriving in Calgary to battle the Flames, a team that finds themselves seven points back of the Jets this morning. The Jets need to continue to play this up-tempo, hard-working style of play against the Flames after they shut out the Hurricanes last night. However, if this style of play can be replicated, I have a feeling that the Jets will douse the Flames on Thursday pretty quickly.

Dodgers Take Over Staples

It isn't the first time that the Los Angeles Kings have supported the Major League Baseball team in La-La-Land, but this time it was done with a purpose. The Stadium Series in Dodger Stadium game will soon be upon us, and the ice-making crew and trucks rolled into SoCal yesterday. To get the ball rolling, the Los Angeles Kings donned their Los Angeles Dodgers warm-up jerseys before their game against the Canucks last night. I actually find these warm-up jerseys to be pretty decent in that they really do look like the Dodgers' blue uniforms.

Of course, they have worn these uniforms before. Dustin Penner looks absolutely huge in that jersey.

Captain's Honour

Pretty cool news out of St. John's, Newfoundland where it was announced that veteran IceCaps forward and former Manitoba Moose Jason Jaffray would be the captain for this year's AHL All-Star squad. This year's All-Star Game format will be different from past years where Team Canada made up of Canadian AHL all-stars played against Planet USA made up of international and American AHL all-stars. Instead, the AHL All-Star team will play an exhibition game against Färjestad BK of the Swedish Elite League in both the game and the annual Skills Competition! This should be good!

The roster for the AHL All-Stars include forwards Brett Connolly (Syracuse Crunch), Brian Gibbons (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins), Mike Hoffman (Binghamton Senators), the aforementioned Jason Jaffray (St. John's IceCaps), Travis Morin (Texas Stars), Brandon Pirri (Rockford IceHogs), Colton Sceviour (Texas Stars), Colton Sissons (Milwaukee Admirals), Ryan Spooner (Providence Bruins), Ben Street (Abbotsford Heat), Ryan Strome (Bridgeport Sound Tigers), and Linden Vey (Manchester Monarchs).

The defencemen on the squad include Chad Billins (Abbotsford Heat), TJ Brennan (Toronto Marlies), Cody Goloubef (Springfield Falcons), Alexey Marchenko (Grand Rapids Griffins), Brayden McNabb (Rochester Americans), and Frederic St. Denis (Springfield Falcons). The net will be protected by Jake Allen (Chicago Wolves) and Martin Jones (Manchester Monarchs).

Something I think is cool? Brayden McNabb, with his inclusion to the AHL All-Star Team, will now have played in an outdoor game, the Spengler Cup, and against a Swedish Elite League team all in the same season, meaning he's played against teams from Canada, the US, Switzerland, Sweden, and Russia all in the same year. The only country he's missed out on? The Czech Republic as the Rochester Americans and HC Vitkovice didn't meet up at the Spengler Cup.

Drafting In Sunrise

This doesn't require a lot of chatter, but the 2015 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Sunrise, Florida, the home of the Florida Panthers. This will be the second time the draft has been hosted by the Panthers after the 2001 NHL Entry Draft took place there. Ilya Kovalchuk went as the first-overall pick to the Atlanta Thrashers in that draft. The 2014 NHL Draft will be hosted by the Philadelphia Flyers on June 27 and 28 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kudos To TSN

I am very excited to see the three-part mini-series that TSN is producing called Reorientation. The series will examine the changing culture of homosexuality in North American professional team sports from a once-homophobic culture to an accepting culture thanks to the work done by athletes and officials, especially the You Can Play movement. Former NHL defenceman and current TSN analyst Aaron Ward sits down with a number of players across the sports world to discuss the changing culture in the game and in locker rooms.
Looks like an outstanding series, and I commend TSN for airing this at a time when athlete sexuality is at the forefront. Each segment will premiere on the 6pm of SportsCentre starting tomorrow and running through Friday. Check your local listings for times and channel listings!

That's all for today as I feel like I'm caught up quite nicely with the on-goings in hockey. Speaking of the TSN piece, Hockey Blog In Canada firmly stands beside any athlete who has already stepped forward, and will 100% support any athlete who may want to step forward. I don't care if you're gay, straight, white, black, tall, short, thin or fat. If you can play, you can play. So play on, kids!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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