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Thrashers players "excited" to come to Winnipeg

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Tim Stapleton knows very little about Winnipeg outside of the colour scheme at visitor’s locker room at the MTS Centre. And wouldn’t dare take a quick trivia test about his new hockey home.

But the former Atlanta Thrasher-turned Winnipeg Something-or-Other can’t wait to get here.

"It’s crazy right now, but it’s exciting," said the 28-year-old centre from his offseason home in Chicago.

"I played against Manitoba when I was in the minors so I know that it was, by far, the best road trip. I don’t know much about the city because we were always in and out of there. But I know the hockey environment was always exciting and the fans are diehards and there’s a great tradition of hockey there with the old Jets.

"I have no idea what it’s going to be like, but I’ve heard stories and I know there’s a lot of excitement in the air right now.

"That’s the main thing why I’m so excited. I wish the season would start tomorrow."

Stapleton, like many of his Atlanta teammates, is ecstatic to have the first chapter of this hockey soap opera complete. While many questions remain unresolved, they do at least have some certainty in knowing where they will hang their helmets in the 2011-12 NHL season.

"Every person I talked to who played there or played against the Jets… I honestly haven’t heard one bad thing," he said. "You hear, ‘Oh, it’s so cold.’ But we’re there for our jobs. I don’t worry about that other stuff. Everyone says you’re part of the community and everyone will know who you are.

"That’s pretty cool."

Andrew Ladd, the team captain, said part of what will make the move from Atlanta to Winnipeg easier is the fact they are doing it as a unit. This isn’t a single player having to reacquaint himself to new teammates or surroundings after a trade.

"We’ve got a really fun group of guys," said Ladd. "We’re a close group that is really excited about going to a city that is crazy about hockey. It should be a lot of fun.

"There’s so much for guys to do… the guys who have kids, school-wise, moving all their stuff and finding places to live but now we at least have a little direction in where we’re going and we can start planning."

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

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