Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Not so great expectations

Noel says team must raise its standards

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REGULAR monitors of Claude Noel who have gotten used to hearing his unremarkable chastisements of players during practice were served up a surprise Friday.

"Gimme a break," and "wake up," is about as acerbic as the Jets' head coach will get under normal circumstances, but he upped the vitriol a few degrees during the quick morning workout that followed Thursday's odious effort against Florida.

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Late in the skate, a clearly frustrated Noel halted the proceedings and tore into his troops. It wasn't Boudreau-esque, but the patronizing address was tinged with sarcasm and dipped in derision.

"That's four times in a row we haven't gotten it right," he announced during a sloppily conducted drill. "It would be nice if you expected more from yourselves."

Noel said his players need to change their expectations.

"We have to raise our standard of existence. We have a low standard of ourselves. That's what we are right now," said Noel. "That's part of trying to change your identity.

"We have spoken to each other (about) Thursday's actions and game. It's not good. I'm not happy and they're not happy and it's going to continue down that road until we get this thing going in the right direction. This is how team cohesion gets built. This is not disrespectful to the players. They're not bad people."

Veteran Tanner Glass, one of Winnipeg's best players to date, was blunt about Thursday's feeble effort.

"It's tough to flip the page on that one," he said. "We've got some guys that are passengers right now," said Glass, who has three goals and five assists while skating with linemates Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn. "Overstaying their shifts, not staying within the system. It takes 20 guys to win in this league. You can't have passengers and for us it's about getting everyone on the same page."

Glass said Noel took centre stage Friday morning.

"We had a meeting this morning. There was no name calling or finger pointing, but the message was definitely clear that (Thursday) wasn't acceptable and we have to be accountable to one another," said Glass. "We're 16 games in and haven't figured it out. From now on every game is the biggest of the year. There's a right way to play. You can't just flounder around and have a (good) period here and a period where you suck. It's really aggravating. Everyone has to be mature enough to take criticism and give criticism."

Noel has mostly been patient to this point, but he has clearly seen enough.

"Last night's game was an identifying moment for our team. The comfort level has set in and we know what we have. We'll move forward from here," he said. "My message to them was 'let's just deal with reality.' This is what we are... This is what you've shown each other."

Noel said he has seen enough from his team to believe they can win on a regular basis, but change must occur with each individual player for the team to rise as a whole.

"My task is to get our team to look in the mirror. To get individual players to look in the mirror and say, 'this is what you are.' They don't always see that," said Noel. "There are people that choose to live in houses without many mirrors. So we have to provide them." Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 12, 2011 C1

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