Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Noel loving every minute of Jets' camp

Very, very busy man these days

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New team, new gig, three games in three days... excuse Winnipeg Jets' head coach Claude Noel if his head isn't spinning a bit.

And the man seems to be loving every minute of it.

"I asked Chevy (Jets' GM Kevin Cheveldayoff) this question yesterday: 'Have you been involved in a camp like this?' And he said, 'Not really. Never,'" said Noel after two practices Thursday, both of which he watched from the stands. "Logistic-wise it's lists and who's going where and post this and post that. We're like a mess back there in the morning trying to figure out where we're going."

The Jets released eight players on Thursday, sending six back to junior and assigning one to St. John's. But there are still 56 bodies in camp, including injured players. Winnipeg will fly a good chunk to Nashville then St. John's on the weekend, while another crew will be in Carolina for a game Sunday.

But it's not so much just the logistics of handling and massaging a roster, it's going through everything for the first time, too.

"There's a lot of newness," said Noel. "It's where to park at the airport. We have to take a bus the first day, which is kind of unheard of, and so it's just the little stuff that keeps coming up.

"For everybody it's new. There's so much going on in the building. There's so much going on it's a challenge. There's a lot of things. We're building two teams (including their AHL affiliate in St. John's) in 106 days and we're renovating and making sure everything's up to snuff.

"The fact that you've got new players is an added challenge, but it's all good stuff. You've just got to be organized. It doesn't help you sleep at night. You're trying to figure out what you forgot. That's pretty much what you think about when you go to bed: 'What did I forget?'"

The three games in three-nights -- including the nationally televised Kraft Hockeyville game Monday in Newfoundland -- will also help give Jets' management more answers. Noel hopes to have a smaller roster to work with for the final two preseason tilts on Wednesday, Sept. 28 and Friday, Sept. 30 against Carolina and Nashville at the MTS Centre.

"We're going to make some stiff evaluations and see who gets past the weekend because then we've got two games (left) and it will be telling," Noel said. "Then we've got a week to prepare. Not only that, but the teams and the level steps up as the teams get down to their numbers. It'll be good for us.

"The bigger stage is good because it gave us a lot of information here and the home games will give us some good information."

NO WORRIES: Don't read anything into Chris Mason giving up five goals in the split-squad game in Columbus and whether that affects his standing on the depth chart. And here's why:

"I'm not worried about that," said Noel. "I had Chris when I was with Nashville and in Milwaukee when he was starting off. He's a real battler and competitor. He plays with a lot of heart. I'm not worried about Chris Mason. It's four days in. I know one thing: he cares about his game. You don't have to tell him what you have to do every game."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 23, 2011 C2

History

Updated on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 10:27 AM CDT: Fixed cutline.

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