Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Flood making most of big chance

Career AHLer impressing as replacement 'D'

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- At 27 and with only six NHL games in six pro years, Mark Flood has lived his share of disappointment.

"I've been around for a little bit now; I'm used to getting cut at training camp," Flood, the Winnipeg Jets defenceman, smiled. "It's bad to say that but it's kind of true."

It was true again this fall, when the Charlottetown, P.E.I., native was dispatched from the Jets training camp to the St. John's IceCaps of the AHL after two exhibition games.

"You never want to leave on a sour note; you always want to try to do the best you can," he added. "You want to let them know you're capable of filling in if they need you."

It's an open question how much of that Flood actually did at Jets camp, but the book on him contained more than that for Jets' brass.

It certainly included a sturdy season in 2010-11 for the AHL's Manitoba Moose, where Flood was a key member of the locker-room in which he sits once again.

Last season in antlers, and playing for Jets coach Claude Noel, Flood had 11 goals and 40 points and earned the interest he received from the organization graduating to the NHL.

But coming into Jets camp facing six incumbent defencemen, plus off-season signees Randy Jones and Derek Meech, was no easy street.

"There were seven or eight, yeah," Flood said. "Any time going into training camp, you know they have their one-way guys that they're financially committed to.

"There's always maybe a little bit of wiggle room for maybe one guy if he has a really good camp. It's kind of out of your control, and I know it's cliché to say that, but ... realistically, a lot of guys just want to go and leave a good taste in management's mouth, that that guy had a good camp and he's capable of playing in the league."

Capable is what Flood has shown the Jets since being recalled nearly two weeks ago, with regulars Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Randy Jones and Derek Meech on the shelf.

He's played five games and has two goals and three points. That includes his first NHL goal against New Jersey's Marty Brodeur last week.

"I'm just trying to keep it simple out there, jump up when I can to join the rush and it's been going pretty good so far," Flood said.

"(The goal), that was pretty cool. I was just trying to put the puck on net and it happened to find its way in. That was pretty neat."

Flood didn't see action in the MTS Centre during the pre-season but he, more than most, has a good feel for what the rink and the fans are like.

He also has a good feel for the city, given the enthusiastic support he experienced with the Moose, and was very aware of how the NHL question was percolating in the months previous to the May 31 announcement of the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers.

He remembered that speculative energy fondly this week.

"There was one time, it was in the playoffs, when Claude talked to the team about it last season," Flood said. "It was the whole Phoenix thing going on and he said, 'Listen, we've got to focus on what we've got to do and not let that bother us.'

"Other than that, you know what Chipper (owner Mark Chipman) and Zinger (assistant GM Craig Heisinger) are like, they're pretty private. There was never anything else in here despite everything that was going on outside here. After the season, things really broke loose."

And for now, that's become his opportunity.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 12, 2011 C6

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