Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Much ado over verbal exchange

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IN Saturday's Jets-Devils contest, Alex Burmistrov and Patrik Elias traded barbs in the third period and it continued as the players returned to their benches.

The veteran Elias told the Bergen Record he thinks Burmistrov needs to learn his place.

"He wanted to yap a little bit," Elias said. "I'll take him anytime. He's way too young to do that. He doesn't know what's up yet. I'll take him anytime."

All this prompted this reaction from Jets winger Evander Kane, who likes a good on-ice 'discussion' as much as the next guy.

"I don't understand why you can't do that," said Kane. "You've got veterans shooting their mouths off, so... I'm not going to name names, but I can name 15 guys on their team who were shooting their mouths off. If they're going to do that they better expect something back, I don't care how young you are... if you're five years old and playing on the same ice surface you'd better expect a little give and take. I love what Burmi does, I think it's great. He doesn't really take anything from anybody and I like that. I'm the same way. If a veteran guy on another team has a problem with that, I'm not going to cry about it."

Asked to weigh in on the subject, Jets head coach Claude Noel was surprisingly mum:

"I don't have much of a comment. I have my thoughts on that (but he wouldn't share them) because I'm of the older player. That's today's generation. I don't have any more to say."

Final word on the subject to Burmistrov: "I think Patrik Elias should stop talking so much," he said.


HOME COOKING: With two wins already this month and a boatload of home dates to come in December, the Jets have an opportunity to give the MTS Centre the reputation as a tough place to play.

Tonight's opponent, the Bruins, should be prepared for the energy that backs the Winnipeg side -- winning a Stanley Cup in a Game 7 on the road is proof the Bruins won't be intimidated -- so the Jets aren't counting on the Bruins being unprepared for the MTS Centre atmosphere.

"They're going to know -- they're well coached and organized, they're going to know," Jets head coach Claude Noel said. "They don't take anything for granted. I think teams know... but it's a good place to play for both teams. The visiting team, they have to enjoy playing here, too -- they (the fans) are right into the game, they boo you. I think they feed off the excitement, as well."

Seven of Winnipeg's 11 wins have come at home.


CROSSFIRE: Ron Hainsey is no fan of the evolution of shot blocking in the NHL.

"I hate it but that's kind of where the game has gone," the defenceman said Monday. "You see a lot of (defenceman) getting hurt... some guys, (Toronto's Mike) Komisarek broke his arm literally kneeling in front of the goalie two feet in front of the blue paint. You're running the risk of getting hurt when you're doing that."

Hainsey, who is close to returning to the lineup after suffering a foot injury last month (while blocking a shot), understands the expectations for his position. Once told to clear a path for the goaltender to see the puck, defenceman (and those players down low near the net) are now asked to get in the way of shots from the point.

"It's just a new way to play defence... essentially playing goalie without the goalie stuff on."


PASSING OFF: Blake Wheeler, on playing the role of set-up man while skating alongside the red-hot Evander Kane:

"I don't think I have a choice. Kaner is on fire right now and anytime you see a player, not just scoring the way he is but moving the way he is, you get the puck in the offensive zone and you just want to give it to him because it's almost a scoring chance every time. It makes it fun to play with a guy like that, he's instant offence out there. Maybe one of these days he'll fake a shot and throw one to me back door, who knows?"

Kane has seven points (six goals) in his last five games.


ON THE FARM: The St. John's IceCaps signed forwards Garth Murray and Daniel Koger. Murray is on an AHL deal; Koger signed a pro tryout agreement... Forward Tommy Maxwell was called up from the Colorado Eagles (ECHL)... Centre Marco Rosa leads the IceCaps in scoring with 22 points in 22 games.

Hainsey hopeful

SLOWLY but surely, the Winnipeg Jets are returning to full strength.

Defenceman Ron Hainsey was the latest to show signs that he's ready to come back into the lineup as he skated with the team at practice Monday. His status for tonight's game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins at the MTS Centre remains questionable, but the fact he's on the ice practising is a positive sign.

The veteran has appeared in only five games this season. After returning from a lengthy injury rehab for the game against Washington (Nov. 23), Hainsey took a Roman Hamrlik shot off the foot versus the Capitals and has been out for the last five contests.

"I'm still a little iffy," he said. "There's a pretty large open cut from a shot I blocked in my first game back in Washington and it couldn't be stitched because of where it was on the front of my ankle, it's right where the skate hits. It's just in a terrible spot... I still have my sock on so we'll see how much bleeding and opening of it we did today and we'll go from there.

"It's been almost two weeks. It's just in a weird spot and I've got to worry about infection, about it opening up and all that. We'll look at it here after I'm done with this and go from there."

Hainsey wasn't joking about the bleeding -- his right sock had a noticeable red stain on it as he spoke to reporters Monday.

"I don't know if he's there yet," head coach Claude Noel said on Hainsey's availability for tonight's game. "He might need another practice so I'm not sure if he's a player yet for (tonight). But he looked like he was fairly good. I haven't talked to our medical guys yet. I know he's close."

Joining Hainsey on the "close" list are forwards Nik Antropov and Eric Fehr. Noel said all three players should be ready to go by the end of the week, while defenceman Brett Festerling has also been cleared to return.

Tobias Enstrom (broken collarbone) is skating and will likely be available at the end of the month.

-- Adam Wazny

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 6, 2011 D3

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