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Southern Jet warming to true north’s icy winters

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It's a trade-off Randy Jones has embraced. No, really.

The newest Winnipeg Jet -- a man who has spent the last two winters in Los Angeles and Tampa Bay -- is thrilled with the prospect of heading to his car after a January practice and praying the battery isn't dead, of having to shovel his driveway and scrape the ice off the windshield.

"I went through the closet the other day and made sure all the sandals stayed left behind," Jones said with a chuckle in a media conference call Monday. "I'm going to have to go out searching for some new snow boots.

"I don't see that as any problem. That's the way hockey should be. Hockey's played during the wintertime, in the freezing cold. It's going to feel like hockey again."

The Jets added the 29-year-old defenceman on Saturday, signing him to a one-year deal worth $1.15 million. He's appeared in 326 NHL games with Philadelphia, L.A. and Tampa and heads back north for the first time since his junior days with Ontario's Cobourg Cougars.

"It's been 10 years since I played in Canada, back in Junior A, so that part of it's going to be exciting for me," Jones said. "The last couple of seasons in Tampa and L.A., those aren't huge hockey markets. That's going to be a change of pace, but it's going to be fun with the intensity and energy the fans will have. They're very passionate about their hockey and it's going to be a lot of fun to play in front of them.

"I'm excited. It's an up-and-coming organization with a fresh start in Winnipeg and I'm looking forward to the opportunity."

ARBITRATION ANYONE? Expect Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler, both restricted free agents seeking new deals with the Jets, to file for arbitration before today's 4 p.m. deadline. Just to be clear, by no means does that signal that negotiations between the team and their agents have ended.

"We've been talking almost every day since the draft about trying to come to a long-term agreement, but we haven't been able to do that yet," Ladd's agent, J.P. Barry, told Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press. "We expect to keep trying, but if not, we'll likely file tomorrow and keep negotiating."

Filing for arbitration gives the player the right to a hearing during the summer that will determine his value for the coming season. The team then has the right to accept the one-year contract or allow the player to become an unrestricted free agent.

Ladd, the captain and leading scorer of the Atlanta Thrashers last year, had 29 goals and 30 assists and earned $2.35 million.

CLAUDE'S CREW COMING SOON: New Jets head coach Claude Noel said he hoped to have his assistant coaches in place before mid-July. Now word is those hires could be completed within the next week.

Meanwhile, as has been speculated for days, Manitoba Moose assistant Keith McCambridge continues to have his name linked to the head-coaching position with Winnipeg's AHL affiliate in St. John's.

RUMOUR CENTRAL: The Washington Capitals are said to be shopping Alex Semin with Montreal, Nashville, Toronto, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Jose, all said to be interested in the right-winger, who has 166 goals in the last five years. Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian has also had his name linked to Semin in various trade rumours.

By the numbers

Randy Jones

Year Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM
2003-04 PHI 5 0 0 0 1 0
2005-06 PHI 28 0 8 8 -6 16
2006-07 PHI 66 4 18 22 -14 38
2007-08 PHI 71 5 26 31 8 58
2008-09 PHI 47 4 4 8 8 22
2009-10 LA 48 5 16 21 -3 28
2010-11 TB 61 1 12 13 -4 15
326 19 84 103 -10 177

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2011 D1


Updated on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 6:14 PM CDT: Corrects error in fact box.

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