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Kane close to being very able

Had limited summer training, but Jets sniper finally healthy

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He's healthy. But is he fit?

After a summer spent mostly convalescing -- first from a wrist injury that dogged him towards the end of last season and then from foot surgery he underwent during the off-season -- Evander Kane was the first to admit Tuesday he is not in the physical condition he'd normally be at this time of year.

But he will be soon, the 22-year-old left-winger pledged Tuesday morning after joining many of his teammates in an informal skate at the MTS Iceplex.

"We've still got a month until the regular season starts, so there's still lots of time," said Kane. "But for right now and for the amount of training I've done, I feel really good."

Just fewer than 20 Jets players took part in the optional skate, including the likes of Kane, captain Andrew Ladd, defencemen Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom and forward Blake Wheeler. Among the notables absent were defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

Kane said the wrist injury prevented him from working out, even during last season. And then the foot surgery he underwent in mid-June -- he had an operation to relieve pressure on a nerve in his left foot -- also took longer to heal than he expected.

"It's been good progress, but it maybe took a little more time than I thought it would. But at the end of the day, I think it was a positive procedure."

Among the Jets newcomers practising at the Iceplex was right-winger Devin Setoguchi, a former 31-goal scorer who the Jets acquired from the Minnesota Wild this summer in hopes he could provide the linemate for Kane that the team has been looking for.

After getting his first close look at his new teammates, including Kane, Setoguchi was asked if he'd given any thought to who he would like to play with this season.

"No, not really -- that's kind of what training camp is for. You come in and play and find matches. And throughout the course of the year, things change quite a bit."

But Setoguchi said one look at the Jets lineup has him convinced it won't take long to find a linemate.

"It shouldn't be too hard when they got that many great players up front. It's just a matter of mixing and matching and seeing what works best."

Kane agreed it's much too early to say who might work best as a linemate this season, but he said the recipe for finding line chemistry is as simple as it has been elusive for him these past couple of seasons.

"Playing together, that's the biggest thing," said Kane. "And talking, being comfortable to talk to your linemates about different things. And just figuring out what everybody does well."

"It's like golf -- if you don't play, you're not going to get any better. If you don't play together, it's tough to build chemistry."

There will also be a subplot to Kane's upcoming season -- the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Although he was not among the 47 players Hockey Canada invited to Calgary last week for a four-day Olympics orientation camp, Kane could still play his way on to the Team Canada with a strong first half to the upcoming NHL season.

So? Is the Olympics -- and proving wrong the people who left you off the list of invitees last week -- a motivator?

"I'm not worried about it. We'll let my play dictate that and see what happens," said Kane.

"Of course, you always want to represent your country and I always feel it's an honour to represent Canada at any international tournament. We'll see what happens... Who knows?"

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press

Some Winnipeg Jets players and rookies took part in an informal practice at the MTS Iceplex Wednesday morning. Among them were Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele (kneeling).

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2013 D1

History

Updated on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 6:42 AM CDT: adds photo

6:55 AM: adds videos

6:38 PM: Adds slide show.

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