The Winnipeg Jets have stockpiled their roster on The Rock.
The Jets announced Tuesday morning they have assigned 20 players to the St. John’s IceCaps, their AHL affiliate, including former Manitoba Moose players like Jason Jaffray, Marco Rosa, Shawn Weller, Mark Flood and Kevin Clark.
"It’s always difficult, especially when I deal with people I’m close to, such as the players who played for me last year. It’s a tough day," said Jets’ head coach Claude Noel. "Jason Jaffray, you feel for. Marco Rosa, you feel for. But what we try to indicate to them is we have a good relationship and the love hasn’t gone in the relationship.
"We don’t know our whole group... should (some of the players sent to St. John’s) be here ahead of people? Potentially, yes. And that’s the sad part. They’re good players. We’re not losing sight of them. And they are not far away."
Also sent to St. John’s were John Albert, Akim Aliu, Chris Carrozzi, Ben Chiarot, Mike Forney, Riley Holzapfel, Arturs Kulda, Peter Mannino, Julian Melchiori, Eric O’Dell, Edward Pasquale, Zach Redmond, Cody Sol and Shayne Wiebe of Brandon.
Noel said some of the Moose players were caught in a tough spot: because the organization knew them already and needed time to evaluate some fresh faces, they were sent down first.
"You might want to take a look at a younger player, a first or second year player, that you don’t know," said Noel. "He’s new to the organization, he’s a draft pick from Atlanta or ourselves we don’t know. Let’s use Jason Jaffray (as an example). Would that forward be better than Jason Jaffray today? Probably not. So, if I’m Jason and I look at the list I think, ‘Well, I’m better than him.’ Clearly, he is. But he’s 21 and we’re trying to get to know him and Jason’s 29 and we do know him. It hurts that way and you want to be here and compete, but that’s the way it goes.
"Players have to recognize that the door opens. Opportunity exists and you’ve got to prepare your game for it and you can’t drag around negative emotions that do nothing but drag you down. So the sooner you wrap your head around it and move forward... we’ d like to see them all back here. Those guys deserve it and a lot of those guys we had here before have a chance to play for us."
The moves leave the Jets with 36 players still in camp: 20 forwards, 10 defencemen, three goaltenders and three injured players: Eric Fehr, Aaron Gagnon and Kendall McArdle.