Saturday, 17 September 2011

Our First Look

Holy cow! Today was a big day in Winnipeg as the Winnipeg Jets held their first open practice at their practice facility, and the place was an absolute zoo! There aren't many teams that can boast about having a sold-out practice facility to watch training camp, but the Jets have that distinction as they opened the doors to a rush of fans wearing all sorts of Jets gear. For the vast majority of those attending today's look at the Jets, it might be the only time they get to see them live as rumours of available tickets per regular season game seems to be dwindling depending on who you talk to and on what day. However, we're not going to worry too much about that today. Instead, it's all about what the Jets did on the ice, and we'll cover a few more headlines as well.

  • Lots of applause for newly-signed Zach Bogosian as he inked a two-year, $5 million deal before he hit the ice today. Bogosian looked great out there during the drills. If there's one thing that I noticed more than anything, it's that the Jets are going youthful in their first year. Maybe that's a good thing in that everyone will be hungry for one of those few roster spots available.
  • Former Winnipeg Jet Teppo Numminen will be back in the NHL this coming season. Numminen retired after the 2009 season as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, and he will join Lindy Ruff behind the Sabres' bench this season as an assistant coach. It's good to see Teppo doing well after his heart scare, and I think he'll be a great coach for the Sabres' defencemen.
  • One guy to keep your eye on if he makes the Jets roster this season? Kevin Clark. The former Moose forward was a crowd favorite in Winnipeg thanks to his toughness and tenacity, but he has great hands and speed that are often overlooked. He looked good out on the ice today, and he is a proud Winnipegger. He won't score 100 points, but he could be one of those key "glue" guys that every team needs. Personally, he could be the Jets' version of Tyler Kennedy.
  • Calgary's Jarome Iginla gave fans something to worry about when he cut out of practice just 20 minutes in today. The 34 year-old said it was nothing to worry about, and that it was just for precautionary reasons. That breeze coming from the West? It's the collective city of Calgary breathing a sigh of relief.
  • With Bogosian signed and Luke Schenn signing an extension in Toronto, you have to wonder if and when Kings GM Dean Lombardi is going to back down from his stance against Drew Doughty. I'm not saying that Doughty deserves $7 million per season (does anyone deserve that?), but Lombardi is risking a public execution if Doughty doesn't play this season. He's that important to the Kings as one of their cornerstone players.
  • Sidney Crosby was cleared for non-contact practice yesterday, and that's a good sign. While he still might be weeks or months away from playing, the fact that he is on skates again means there's hope that he'll return this season. Fans around the NHL can say what they want about Crosby, but there's no denying that all 30 owners want him back, especially if the Penguins are visiting your team's arena.
  • First-round pick Mark Scheifele looked incredibly comfortable on the Jets' ice this morning. With former Jet superstar Dale Hawerchuk helping him along the way as a member of the Barrie Colts, you almost get the feeling that this kid could be the second coming of a Hawerchuk-type player. He showed great hands, good hockey sense and awareness, and he can skate.
That's all for today, kids. I got a pile of stuff to get done, and I have little time to waste. The open practice this morning was awesome, and the groundswell for the Jets' exhibition game next week is at epic proportions. Go Jets Go!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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