December 9, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
The future is so close, Winnipeg Jets fans can literally see it this week.
Monday afternoon, together on the Winnipeg Free Press Arena ice at the MTS Iceplex were Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey, the team's first three first-round draft picks since the franchise moved to Winnipeg in 2011.
During the first two seasons here, the Jets were largely unchanged but now it would seem Scheifele and Trouba would have to do plenty wrong not to be on the 2013-14 edition.
But maybe the most struck by the future-in-clear-focus moment Monday at the 2013 development camp was Morrissey, the 18-year-old defenceman from Calgary and the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders who was the picked by the Jets 13th overall two weeks ago at the NHL draft in Newark, N.J.
"To be honest, until that moment when I walked out and saw all that and stuff on the ice, it maybe really hadn't even set in yet, seeing all those people and being out there with the Jets jersey on," Morrissey said after the skate. "It feels like you're a lot closer."
The 42 skaters are divided into two groups this week but Morrissey wasn't lost on the fact he shared the ice with Scheifele and Trouba.
"It was pretty good to be with those guys," he said. "Mark and Jacob are awesome and were kind of showing me some of the ropes at fitness testing this morning."
Trouba, the defenceman who was the ninth-overall pick of the 2012 draft, saw the present as future, too, he said Monday.
"That's always exciting to get to meet all the new guys that are here," he said. "Obviously I want this place to be home for quite a while for me and I'm working to get there and we'll see how things go.
"But it's always nice to meet new people and be around the organization, the fans and all the other players."
Scheifele, now 20 and two years removed from being the seventh-overall pick of the 2011 draft on the day the team was officially named, sounded like an elder statesman Monday.
And someone with focus.
"Morrissey has been asking me a few questions. He's a great kid, one of those kids that just wants to learn, just wants to get better," Scheifele said. "I've been trying to help out as much as I can, trying to be a leader out there. I'm out there (to offer) a helping hand and to get better myself."
The question of pressure to make the Jets roster this fall, after staying around for a few weeks in each of his first two cracks at NHL training camp, is nothing new, he said.
"I think there's always pressure," Scheifele said. "Obviously the goal is to make Winnipeg. That goal will never go away and I'm working my hardest this summer to be on the team full-time this year."
But it wasn't a day for pressure, since the five-day camp is more about helping the players, not judging them.
In addition to some on-ice acclimatization, the sessions includes training in media, fitness and nutrition matters.
And there was plenty of exposure to fans, hundreds of which attended the practices and pushed forward for autographs and photos afterwards.
"Day 1 was good," Morrissey said. "It's pretty surreal to see all the fans out there. My first few steps out of those (locker-room) doors, seeing all the people lined up, saying some pretty nice stuff. It's been pretty unreal.
"I had some time to celebrate with my family a bit but it's getting right down to work again for this camp. It's been crazy for sure."
With more to come.
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2013 C1