Chris Thorburn understands full well hockey fans may be angry and vocal when the National Hockey League returns to business sometime next week.
But the Winnipeg Jets winger, who returned to the city late Monday and was on the ice with a handful of his teammates this morning, also knows the most-effective way to win back their hearts is this:
"There’s been mixed reactions throughout the fan base. We’re going to go out and try and win them back," Thorburn said today at MTS Iceplex. "They deserve to have their opinion, but at the same time as players it’s our job to get them back whether it’s in the community or on the ice. That’s our goal going forward this season.
"Jets fans are pretty loyal and hopefully the arena packed. There’s a lot of positives out there for the season to get going. Our main objective is to go play hockey and get some wins here early and hopefully get the fan base back."
Thorburn spent much of his offseason with his family at his home in Atlanta, where he played with the Thrashers for four seasons. But in the fall he sold his home and moved his family to Michigan, where he worked out with members of his old Ontario Hockey League team in Saginaw.
"It was crazy... I put my house up for sale. There was a ton going on with myself and my family," said Thorburn. "But it’s good. We got it out of the way and now it’s good. Now it’s just hockey. We got all the hard stuff out of the way and we’re excited to get back to Winnipeg here and just relax and let me play hockey.
"It was tough (saying farewell to Atlanta. My kid was born there and we had a lot of ties there. But at the same time it was time to move on and be closer to family and Michigan brings that. We’re excited about the changes."
Thorburn joined Jet captain Andrew Ladd, who just returned from B.C., along with Olli Jokinen, Toby Enstrom, Jim Slater and Bryan Little at the Iceplex this morning. More and more Jets are expected to arrive in the next few days with an anticipated opening of main training camp on Saturday or Sunday.
The NHL won’t release camp dates and the schedule until after the new collective-bargaining agreement is ratified, but speculation has the Jets opening at home on Saturday Jan. 19th.
Twitter: @WFPEd Tait