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Players strive to keep in practice as lockout continues

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WINNIPEG -- Not that there would ever be much appeal to a holding pattern, but it's waning after only four days of the NHL lockout.

"Already it's getting kind of old," said Winnipeg Jets centre Bryan Little, who has been skating with numerous teammates and other NHLers and pros at the MTS Iceplex this week. "This is the kind of stuff we do all summer and for us, not making the playoffs, it's been five months doing this.

"But you have to do it, stay on the ice, stay in shape and keep working out hard. But there's a time where you want to get playing games. It feels like it's just about time to get playing right now and you're kind of sick of this.

"You hope you'll get back as soon as possible because you don't want to keep doing this."

NHL training camps were supposed to start later this week; the Jets on Friday.

They will not, of course, and soon the natural rhythms of all NHL players and prospects will be disrupted.

"If anything, this feels kind of like the end of August, when guys start getting here. It doesn't really feel like camp is supposed to start in a couple of days.

"I don't think anyone is too worried or too panicked yet because it's only a couple of days in."

Little said after last week's competing press conferences in New York, and the official expiry of the old CBA late Saturday -- marking the beginning of the lockout -- matters among the rank-and-file players have quieted somewhat.

"I there's a bit of a lull," Little said. "The last few days have been kind of quiet. I haven't heard too much since they decided to lock out. I think there will come a point where there will be some urgency because right now this seems like it's slowed down a bit because the season isn't supposed to start for three weeks.

"I think once we start getting closer to where the camps are supposed to open, hopefully they'll pick it up a bit."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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