Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Catching up with the Jets

Scheifele on road to recovery and other noteworthy off-season news

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He's feeling quite a bit better and thanks for asking, Winnipeg Jets prospect Mark Scheifele said Wednesday.

The 20-year-old first-round 2011 draft pick was hit late and into the boards in Game 6 of the Ontario Hockey League final and suffered a concussion, leaving him unable to play for his Barrie Colts in Game 7 of the championship series a week ago Monday.

Barrie lost Game 7 to London on a last-second, video-reviewed goal.

"It kind of sucked not to play the last game, the worst feeling ever," Scheifele told the Free Press.

"I tried (to be ready for Game 7). I just didn't feel anywhere close to right. Getting this down time has helped my head a little bit more."

He said he watched the painful final game from home.

"That was hard to take," he said. "One of the most heart-breaking things, that to happen to the boys and not being there or able to help, that was pretty brutal.

"I'm feeling a lot better now. I've pretty much taken all those days off, doing completely nothing, just relaxing. I'll probably start a little more activity as the days come now and see how I feel from that."

Scheifele's life has been nothing short of a whirlwind since he was drafted in June 2011 by the Jets.

"I haven't had a lot of down time in probably around a year now," he said. "It's been pretty busy. When you get the off time, you take advantage of it, take it easy."

Scheifele, who led the OHL playoffs with 15 goals and 41 points in 21 games, raved Wednesday about the three seasons he spent under Colts coach Dale Hawerchuk, the former Jets star.

"He's pretty much helped me with every aspect of hockey," said Scheifele, who joined the Colts in Hawerchuk's rookie season as coach, when they won just 15 out of 68 games. The Colts won 84 regular-season games in the ensuing two seasons.

"He's taught me so much. Being a centreman, learning from him, he's taught me about staying calm in the defensive zone, not rushing up the ice, even taught me things like how to be more deceptive with your shooting.

"I remember so many things even from the first few weeks of being coached by him. I remember exactly all the things he's taught me. He's been the biggest mentor I've ever had. I can't say thanks enough to him."

While Scheifele has been relaxing and recovering, he admitted his thoughts have turned already to some off-season training.

"I'm supposed to be keeping my mind off training right now with the last week off," Scheifele said. "But I think I'm going to change a few things. I've been talking to my agent about it, talking to Winnipeg a bit, and (former NHLer) Gary Roberts is coming up a lot and I'm really hoping I'll get the opportunity to train with him."

Details are yet to be finalized, Scheifele said.

"That's the thing I'm leaning towards right now," he added. "I think it would be a great opportunity for me. I've heard only good things and I know some of my friends work out there."

 

Some other unanswered questions have been lingering since the Jets concluded their regular season on April 25.

Among them:

Q: GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has a lot of free agents to deal with and make decisions on this off-season, nine UFA's, nine RFA's and several other system players and prospects. Any news yet?

A: Pretty much zero. The GM and his staff do have a lot of players in play in a unique summer -- the salary cap's declining and many new CBA rules are in play. There is much to contemplate and understand and the team's hockey department has been busy in many regards tending to that business.

Q: What's Cheveldayoff saying about a report that RFA Alex Burmistrov wants to be traded or doesn't want to re-sign?

A: "We have a lot of decisions to be made," he told the Free Press late Wednesday. "To try to comment individually on each and every one of them, regardless of whatever circumstances are being painted, it's just counter-productive for me to do that."

Q: What about some of the hobbled players at the end of the season? Did Evander Kane or Mark Stuart or Toby Enstrom need any surgery?

A: Kane, who had a wrist problem and also nerve damage in his lower leg and foot, will not need surgery and is using the off-season for treatment and rest. Enstrom's pain from back trouble required treatment rest alone. Mark Stuart, who played with a sports hernia late in the season, does not require surgery. Zach Bogosian, who missed the final three games with a concussion after taking a blow to the head, is doing fine and time, rest and rehab are the prescription for Olli Jokinen, who suffered a high-ankle sprain late in the season.

Q: What did the Jets brass focus on at the world championship?

A: GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and assistant GM Craig Heisinger spent no time watching team captain Andrew Ladd with Team Canada or goalie Ondrej Pavelec with the Czech Republic. Instead, they were keenly interested in 2012 first-round pick Jacob Trouba with Team U.S.A. in games in Helsinki. "We saw him play in a lot of different situations with eight defencemen in the lineup any given night. Jacob played on the first power play in all the games that we watched. He was given a lot of responsibility in that regard. He has a very good slapshot. The team was looking for some chemistry in some areas and found it. I think their power play was pretty good and from that standpoint, it was pretty good to see Jacob be a part of it. Not having played for an extended period of time or ever at the men's level, I think there was a good transition period for him. It looked like he was more comfortable every time he played. He's had a wonderful opporrtunity given to him and he took full advantage of it."

It's safe to say the Jets are feeling better by the day for having signed the 19-year-old in April.

Q: Is there anything new about the Jets for the NHL entry draft in late June?

A: Status quo, which is that the team has six picks in the first three rounds (their own first, three seconds, two thirds) and 10 picks overall as of today. Winnipeg picks 13th in the first round. The abundance of picks gives Cheveldayoff some options if he's in the mood for transactions but the GM said it's a bit too early to be talking about possible deals or shopping. The team's brass had extensive sessions for five days last week with its amateur scouts.

Q: At the end of the season, the GM wasn't very definitive about coach Claude Noel, who's got one year left on his contract. Any updates?

A: None. Noel apparently took some down time at season's end, while Cheveldayoff has been in Europe and in Saskatoon at the Memorial Cup, so no in-depth discussions have taken place yet. There has been speculation but a coaching change at this point seems less likely.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2013 D2

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