Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 11/4/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
THERE are enough fires burning already. The creation of new ones isn't needed.
The Winnipeg Jets, however, moved to change an element of their defence on the weekend and those will begin to show tonight when the Detroit Red Wings visit the MTS Centre for the first time.
Saturday, the Jets claimed 24-year-old Keaton Ellerby off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.
Sunday, the Jets re-assigned youngsters Ben Chiarot and Julian Melchiori to the St. John's IceCaps of the AHL and recalled Zach Redmond from the IceCaps.
The Jets have won once in the last seven games, are having trouble scoring (exceeding two goals just once in this span), aren't getting stellar goaltending and have a terrible track record of risky mistakes at the wrong times.
So Ellerby will be in the lineup tonight for his first game of the NHL season and don't be surprised if Redmond is alongside him.
Ellerby is a veteran of 160 NHL games with the Florida Panthers -- he was the team's first-round pick in 2007 -- and Kings. He played 35 games for L.A. last season and five more in the playoffs, but with the return to health of veterans Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene, he was the odd man out there.
"I don't expect more than what I think he's capable of giving and that would be that he just defends well," Jets coach Claude Noel said of Ellerby. "I liked him in practice today. He'd been off a couple of days and travelled. He skates real well, passes real hard. I like the way he defended today.
"He doesn't need to re-invent the game. He's a veteran guy. He has over 150 games in the league. It's not like he's got to ease his way in there. I think the one thing is that we have to recognize it's his first game of the season, so we can't be too critical."
Ellerby has played about 10 games in his career at the MTS Centre, he figured, those with the Panthers and AHL's Rochester Americans.
He's eager for the next, especially after watching so much with the Kings this season.
"Practice gets pretty old sometimes for sure, but it's part of the game," he said. "I'm a young guy, just take it as it comes and work hard every day.
"I worked a lot with John Stevens down there... he helped me out a ton. He was a great coach for me and I think he's helped me develop along the way in my time with L.A., but I'm definitely excited to get a game in tomorrow."
A native of Calgary and residing in Kelowna, B.C., part of the year, he's also familiar with several Jets, including Andrew Ladd, Devin Setoguchi, James Wright and Paul Postma.
"I'm fortunate to know some guys in here, have a little bit of a comfort zone," he said.
Comfort zone is one reason the Jets will be happy to have Redmond back on the roster.
"It's an asset that he's comfortable, that we're comfortable with him," Noel said. "He's a prospect that can get in our lineup and play. And he gives us some experience. I'm looking forward to having him back. He's a real good teammate for the players. There's a real comfort level there."
There was nothing at all wrong with his training camp but was assigned to the IceCaps because his was the only two-way contract left when the team was down to eight defencemen.
Redmond would have been here sooner, but had suffered a knee injury in St. John's that kept him out until Friday.
Having come back strongly from that -- not to mention recovering from his ordeal early this year that included serious surgery after a skate cut his leg open -- he is something of a known quantity.
"I'm not sure if he'll be a player tomorrow night," Noel said Sunday. "He's played a couple of good games down there.
"(We want) nothing more than just get familiar. Probably would like to get him in practice and get him engaged with our team a little bit more before he gets in a game. We'll see. The fact he's played well there -- I believe he was out a month -- he might have been able to sort some things out not only physically but mentally. He's come back and played a couple of good games. That's usually hard to do when you've been out a month."
NOTES: Evander Kane did not practise Sunday, taking a maintenance day.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 4, 2013 C3
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