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Just one more sleep

Yabba-dabba do! Players, fans ready to roll on Super Sunday Phone rings, MacLean joins Jets

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Goalie Ondrej Pavelec and defenceman Derek Meech take a breather during Friday's workout.

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Goalie Ondrej Pavelec and defenceman Derek Meech take a breather during Friday's workout. (WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Photo Store

As ready goes, they'd already like to be rolling down the runway.

The new version of the Jets, though, must wait one more day before it's time for takeoff on the NHL's return-to-Winnipeg season.

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The Jets and Montreal Canadiens will usher in the new era of the NHL here at 4 p.m. Sunday at the MTS Centre (CBC, TSN Radio 1290).

"I don't think this is a routine week," said Jets left-winger Evander Kane, his team now only one practice away from getting to the start line. "It's a week that hasn't happened in this city for 15 years.

"Looking at Sunday, I think it's a game where history is made and guys are excited and the city's excited. It's going to be a real special game."

Winnipeg's summer of unprecedented buzz began in May with True North's purchase of the failing Atlanta Thrashers.

Now, four-plus months after the transaction, the real games are upon us.

"There's going to be a lot of attention paid to this game because it's our first and we're making history and we're against a franchise like Montreal," said Jets assistant coach Pascal Vincent, anticipating his first NHL regular-season game. "If I would write a book, I would write it that way.

"As for the game, we're still getting to know each other... what's going to happen Sunday, we don't know."

Kane knows one thing -- that this will be no normal opener.

"Oh, it's definitely not going to look like a Game 1 of the regular season," he smiled. "It's a playoff atmosphere in here every night. You saw it in the pre-season."

Jets left-winger Tanner Glass has seen it in his short time here since signing as a free agent from the Vancouver Canucks.

"It's always exciting being in a special game, the playoffs for me last year or opening night this year," Glass said. "There's a ton of energy in the building and I think every player would be lying if they told you it was like Game 46."

The Jets' last exhibition game was Sept. 30, giving them nine days between puck-drops.

To that end, head coach Claude Noel has scrambled the team's schedule this week.

It had a rowing session on the Red River at mid-week instead of practice. Friday, Noel substituted a scrimmage instead of a full practice.

"It seems like it's been a long week, a long summer," centre Bryan Little said. "It's tough practising like, six days this week without getting to play, but we're finally here in a couple of days."

Little said he's expecting "double the intensity" in the MTS Centre after the team played three pre-season games at home.

"And you saw in the exhibitions, how hard we came out, especially the first game," Little said. "The biggest thing will be to use it in a positive way and not let it get us too emotional. We need to stay calm and play our game. Coming out to that kind of crowd can get you amped up quite a bit."

Glass had a first-hand view of the city's event enthusiasm on Thursday. He was present at The Forks for the NHL's Face-off party with tens of thousands of fans.

"I think after Thursday night, when he (Randy Bachman) changed the lyrics to 'We just got back the Jets,' I got a little shiver there," Glass said. "For me, that was pretty cool, pretty special to be part of.

"But we're just preparing for Montreal. For us, we'll just control the things we can control and do lots of preparation."

Jets right-winger Chris Thorburn believes Sunday will simply be a "whirlwind,' but also believes in preparation.

"I think everyone is just anxious to get it going," Thorburn said. "I don't even know what to expect, really. It's going to be a whirlwind. The day will be great for everyone involved. I'm just proud and excited to be involved. I've got family coming in like a lot of us, so we want to put on a good show but we also have a job to do here and we want to do it well."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

Forward Brett MacLean during Winnipeg Jets practice in the MTS Centre Friday.

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Forward Brett MacLean during Winnipeg Jets practice in the MTS Centre Friday. (WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Photo Store

Phone rings, MacLean joins Jets

A 22-year-old's NHL's dream was re-energized this week with a phone call to Portland, Maine.

Brett MacLean was settling in to his AHL address in Maine -- the affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes -- on Thursday when the call came. He was heading back to the show. He had been claimed by the Jets off waivers and was to pack up and head out immediately.

Less than 24 hours later he was working on a line with Nik Antropov and Alex Burmistrov, preparing to suit up in the Jets' opener Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens.

"I was in shock," said MacLean after practice Friday. "I had accepted that I would start the year in the minors and hadn't heard anything about the waivers. Then I got called in and was told I was going to Winnipeg. It's a pretty quick day after that, you're in shock trying to move from one place to the next.

"This is like a second chance for me. Things didn't work out in Phoenix, but I'm still getting a chance to show what I can do and succeed. Now it's up to me."

 

-- Campbell

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 8, 2011 0

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