Antti Miettinen is looking for some normalcy in his life – both for his family and his hockey career – and he hopes he has found it here in Winnipeg with the Jets.
Acquired on waivers earlier this week after first signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 31-year-old Finn was on the ice for the first time with his new teammates Friday morning. A decision as to whether he’ll suit up for the Jets against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday won’t be made until the pre-game skate, although head coach Claude Noel did hint his debut may not come until next week.
As for Miettinen, his arrival caps what has been a whirlwind week. After leaving his team in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, he signed a new contract with the Lightning, only to have the Jets grab his rights. And then getting to Winnipeg with his family from Helsinki was hardly a slam dunk.
"I feel like I’ve been travelling the whole week," said Miettinen after practice Friday. "It’s a pretty long flight and we had to stay overnight because we missed our connection. Things change quick. Sometimes that’s life, but hopefully we can settle in here now and get our normal life going."
Miettinen had 16 goals and 19 assists with the Minnesota Wild last season and has appeared in 472 games with Minny and the Dallas Stars. He signed with Kazan Ak-Bars in the KHL this summer and had two goals and six assists in 20 games before leaving the team.
"It was just a matter of our family not really being comfortable there," Miettinen explained. "It was pretty tough for my wife and myself to have a normal things rolling and so we decided to do this and here we are.
"It took a long time to think the move (to the KHL) because it was a huge not just for me and my career but also for our family. My wife was pregnant with (our second child)… there were a lot of things involved. It was personal reasons we went there and personal reasons we came back here. We’re happy here. You look back and think it might have been the wrong decision for all of us, but it’s in the past and we’ve got to look to the future."
The Jets will have decisions to make on whether to suit up Miettinen as well as Nik Antropov, Alex Burmistrov and Toby Enstrom – all recovering from injury.
"It’s going to be the coach’s decision whether I play or not," said Enstrom, who has missed 20 games with a shoulder injury. "But I’m cleared to play and it feels good.
"I’ve been practising with the team now for a week and it feels good. I’m not the guy who runs around and hits people. But it’s been almost seven weeks and I think the trainers are happy with what they’re seeing and I’m feeling great."
The Jets will be wearing their white jerseys at home for the game against Anaheim as the Ducks’ organization asked if they could don their third jerseys for the contest.
Meanwhile, the Jets announced Friday afternoon they have re-assigned forward Carl Klingberg to the St. John’s IceCaps. The 20-year-old Swede played in six games for the Jets after being recalled. He had 16 points in 20 games with St. John’s.
Ed.firstname.lastname@example.org --with files from Tim Campbell