Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

How I Spent My Winter Vacation

Essays by the Winnipeg Jets* for Claude Noel's training-camp class

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Dear Mr. Noel,

First, I gotta tell you I would have rather been in your class all winter than off on a four-month holiday. It wasn't really a holiday at all.

But I did get to do a bunch of neat things. First, I went to see the polar bears. Polar bears are awesome. They ought to be a logo for an NHL team some day.

I also did the weather on CTV one night, where they have this really nice lady named Colleen Bready. I went to the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame dinner. I even got to play some hockey on top of a parkade.

But like I said, I'm way happy the vacation is over. I am ready to learn.

- Little Jimmy Slater

Dear Mr. Mayweather,

Winnipeg is no Atlanta. You know what I mean, Floyd?

As I told the Vancouver Sun last March, in Atlanta "you're sitting at your rooftop pool in January and it's 80 degrees." Winnipeg is obviously a lot colder.

So I was pretty stoked to get the chance to do a couple of different things, like play in the KHL.

But that didn't turn out like I expected, Floyd. I mean, when I got off the plane, I wasn't even in Russia. I was in some place called Belarus. Remember when the Belarussian hockey team beat Sweden in the 2002 Winter Olympics, Floyd? I don't. I was 11.

Anyway, when I got back in the U.S.A., I spent some time chilling in Vegas. You know how it is in Vegas, don't you, Floyd?

I was sitting in a hotel room when some guy handed me this awesome phone. I tried to call you on it, but I wound up pocket-dialling everyone in Canada on something called the Twitter.

Turns out they got mad because there was some lockout thing going on.

- Little Evander Kane

Dear Mr. Noel,

I spent my winter vacation at the gym and performing community service as instructed by a court of law.

I believe that satisfies your questions.

- Increasingly little Dustin Byfuglien

Dear Mr. Noel,

I had an awful lot of homework to do this winter. I put in a tremendous amount of hours. It was really hard, but I had one heck of a tutor: His name is Mr. Fehr. He's a very smart guy. I learned an awful lot from him. One day, I might be just like him.

Toward the end of my remedial classes, I also got a lot of help from Mr. Beckenbaugh. In fact, you might say I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for him.

Like I said to The Canadian Press, "When it got to points you didn't know what to do next, you could go to him and talk to him about it and there was a way to work your ideas through a third party who was really able to help the process."

Now that we're back, I hope my work with Mr. Fehr and Mr. Beckenbaugh won't jeopardize my future in your class, Mr. Noel

- Little Ronnie Hainsey

Dear Mr. Noel,

I spent my winter vacation in Windsor, the warmest city in Ontario. It's right across the river from Detroit. I can show where it on the map if you want, Mr. Noel.

You're a real swell teacher. I promise I'll do good this year.

- Little Kyle Wellwood

Dear Mr. Noel,

We haven't met, but I look forward to being in your class.

I spent my winter getting used to my new surroundings, and so far, I like what I see. It's a little bit like Helsinki -- only a lot grimmer.

I learned quite a bit last year from Mr. Sutter, my old teacher. He's really brought up my grades.

I hope to sit at the front of your class, too.

- Little Olli Jokinen

Dear Mr. Noel,

Before I go over to see Principal Cheveldayoff, I just wanted to say I'm sorry. I mean, really, really sorry.

If you need me, I'll be writing on the blackboard after class.

- Little Ondrej Pavelec

Dear Mr. Kane,

My name is Al Montoya. You gave me a concussion. Prepare to die.

- Little Al Montoya

Dear Mr. Noel,

I didn't get much of a vacation. I worked hard all winter, even more than Ronnie did. I've been in this place called St. John's, where it's foggy all day, everybody keeps trying to make me drink screech at night and when you go for dinner they feed you cod's tongues and dressing.

Needless to say, I'm really motivated to stick around this year and won't be wandering away. I promise to stick to your plan.

- Little Alex Burmistrov

Dear Mr. Noel,

I went to Russia over the holidays and managed to score five goals. That's four more than Evander scored over there. Just sayin.'

I realize you may not have room in your class, but if you do, that would be awesome.

- Little Marky Scheifele

Dear Mr. Noel,

Recess is over. Let's get on with it.

- Little Andrew Ladd

* No actual Winnipeg Jets were asked how they spent their winter vacation. But everything inside quotation marks is legit. Additional sources: Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Journal and The Canadian Press.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 14, 2013 A1

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About Bartley Kives

Bartley Kives wants you to know his last name rhymes with Beavis, as in Beavis and Butthead. He aspires to match the wit, grace and intelligence of the 1990s cartoon series.

Bartley joined the Free Press in 1998 as a music critic. He spent the ensuing 7.5 years interviewing the likes of Neil Young and David Bowie and trying to stay out of trouble at the Winnipeg Folk Festival before deciding it was far more exciting to sit through zoning-variance appeals at city hall.

In 2006, Bartley followed Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz from the music business into civic politics. He spent seven years covering city hall from a windowless basement office.

He is now reporter-at-large for the Free Press and also writes an outdoor-recreation column called Offroad for the Outdoors page.

A canoeist, backpacker and food geek, Bartley is fond of conventional and wilderness travel. He is the author of A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province, the only comprehensive travel guidebook for Manitoba – and a Canadian bestseller, to boot. He is also co-author of Stuck In The Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg, a collaboration with photographer Bryan Scott and the winner of the 2014 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award.

Bartley’s work has also appeared on CBC Radio and Citytv as well as in publications such as The Guardian, explore magazine and National Geographic Traveler. He sits on the board of PEN Canada, which promotes freedom of expression.

Born in Winnipeg, he has an arts degree from the University of Winnipeg and a master’s degree in journalism from Ottawa’s Carleton University. He is the proud owner of a blender.

On Twitter: @bkives


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