Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Locked-out Jet Burmi happy to be on The Rock

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CORNER BROOK, N.L. -- A day after it was announced Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets was heading to the Kontinental Hockey League, and the Carolina Hurricanes' Jeff Skinner was taking a pass, for the time being, on playing in the American Hockey League, Alex Burmistrov was still toeing the party line on joining the St. John's IceCaps.

"That's his decision," Burmistrov said of Kane, his teammate in Winnipeg last season. "He can do whatever he wants.

"This is a team decision and they (Jets management) think St. John's is better for me."

Winnipeg can send Burmistrov to the AHL because he is still on an entry level contract.

Kane, a 30-goal scorer for the Jets last season, left for Dinamo Minsk of the Russian-based KHL over the weekend, as Burmistrov joined the IceCaps' hopefuls for the American Hockey League team's training camp in Corner Brook.

Burmistrov skated with a handful of IceCaps Sunday at the Pepsi Centre in advance of today's official start to camp.

"It's a team decision," Burmistrov said of his playing in the AHL during the NHL lockout. "They think this is better for my game."

It's the 20-year-old Russian's first look at the minors after playing the past two years in the NHL.

He registered 20 points during the 2010-11 season with the Atlanta Thrashers before tallying 13 goals and 28 points last year in Winnipeg.

It's no secret Burmistrov, who hails from Kazan, Russia, hoped to head home to play during the lockout, to suit up for the Ak-Bars Kazan Snow Leopards.

But Jets' general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and assistant GM Craig Heisinger, who is the St. John's GM, felt it best he play in St. John's where Winnipeg could keep close tabs on his game.

"I've never been here, and I've never seen an AHL game," he said after Sunday's skate. "There's a lot of good players here, so this is probably the best fit for me.

"There were a lot of great players who came down to the AHL in the last lockout, and it helped their game."

Either way, Burmistrov is glad to be back on the ice, when the IceCaps begin scrimmaging Tuesday following a couple of practices and medicals today.

"It's a long time just working out," he said. "It's boring not playing."

Meantime, the Charlotte Checkers said over the weekend the Hurricanes' Skinner won't be starting the season with the AHL club.

Rather, the 2011 NHL rookie of the year will remain in the Toronto area skating with a number NHLers.

rshort@thetelegram.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 1, 2012 C2

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