Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Noel: Don't expect a rah-rah approach

Jets don't need extra motivation

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It's been said by more than one NHL media type that Claude Noel might just be the most quotable/entertaining coach in the entire loop.

So as the next biggest game of the year is upon his squad, does he have a 'A' game speech he plans to unveil prior to puck drop against the Washington Capitals tonight?

"I don't know at this time of the year if you need a lot of motivation (speeches)," Noel said Thursday.

"I think all of your players know it, they sense what's happening. You don't have to draw pictures for them and I don't think you need to sit there at this level and give them the rah-rah speech. They pretty much know what's going on.

"They're the ones that really need to care. All of us care, but they're the ones that need to care and they do. We just get them prepared and prepared to perform so that there's nothing new. It's not like we're sitting there going, 'How does Washington play?' We know how they play, we know what we want to do and away we go. Put your game out there and away we go."

The reality of the situation is pretty clear, indeed. The Jets have their eyes focussed on the Caps, Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers, but also have the Carolina Hurricanes charging up behind them.

Even the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have been awful for weeks, are just four points back of Winnipeg.

"We can't control what other teams do, we can only control what we do," said Noel. "We've talked about that before. With 18 games to go we were talking about this. That's really what it comes down to. What other teams do around us... it does have a bearing, but we have to try and help ourselves. Every chance we get to win helps us, and if you don't it puts you farther behind."

OUCH REPORT: Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd practised Thursday but Toby Enstrom did not. Enstrom will suit up against the Caps and Noel was thrilled to see Byfuglien, who is battling injury, participate and finish practice.

"He's slowly getting better," said Noel. "He hasn't practised very much with us and we'd like to get him in practice to take part, but his health will determine that. We tried it today and I'm just glad he got through practice."

HAIR REPORT: The Jets are gearing up for a huge tilt against the Caps, but they are still kids at heart. An example: as Evander Kane was wrapping up a scrum with a few reporters Thursday, Tanner Glass joined and -- holding a skate guard into his teammate's face as a fake microphone -- began asking questions. Here's the exchange:

Glass: Evander, tell us a little bit about your haircut and how you came up with that design.

Kane: Well Tanner, I saw yours and I didn't practise for a couple of days because I was sick to my stomach. I thought I'd get something a little different.

Glass: So, does this design have some significance to you in your life?

Kane: It has zero significance on my life, it's strictly a design. I actually got it off Google. It's just something I do. I'm really looking forward to the next one, to be honest.

Glass: Have you seen other figures in pop culture doing this that you got your idea from?

Kane: There's numerous actors, actresses, celebrities that do designs in their hair. I think some look cool, some don't. All mine have been extraordinarily cool. I think it's great. Do you mind me asking where you got your idea to cut your hair like that?

Glass: Mine was from a guy named Kamil Kreps, he was a Czech player.

Kane: I have no idea who that is.

Glass: Well, congratulations on having a great haircut.

Kane: Thank you very much.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 23, 2012 C2

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