Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Paying last respects

Final chance for 'disrespectful' players to atone to one another

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The band is getting together for one more gig before the tour ends and they head their different ways for a summer break.

Some are hoping for a major love-in, but the frontman just wants to make sure they hit their notes once more, with feeling.

The Winnipeg Jets will host the Tampa Bay Lightning today in the team's final game of this resurrection season and the players want to pay their fans back for all the support they've offered. The folks in the seats are also interested in a moment or two of adulation and gratitude.

But one man, Jets coach Claude Noel, wants his charges to finish the season with some oomph and he says it all starts with the start.

"I think it's very disrespectful the way we start games," said Noel, following a 5-4 loss to the host New York Islanders Thursday night. "The way we started again tonight and the way got down I think is disrespectful to one another and what we want to accomplish as a team. The game is 60 minutes and whether you look at it as coming back I think it's poor. It's poor. The game is 60 minutes and I don't like the way we play and the way we disrespect each other."

Noel didn't like the way his team started games on this last road trip which saw them trail early in all four games of the 2-1-1 tour. On Thursday, the Jets stalled out of the gate and had to fight back from a 2-0 deficit before eventually falling to the Islanders.

What does Noel plan to do about the team's slow starts?

"We'll deal with it before the next game," he said. "I don't know how you deal with it, because these games have no value besides your own personal gratification and... self whatever you want to call it. Self analysis or whatever you want to call it. So you have to have intrinsic self motivation and some type of self valuation of what you are and what you need to be to be a good player. I think some guys are OK and some guys aren't."

Perhaps Noel is hitting the desk a little hard with his fist to make sure there is no flop tonight when the Jets organization would like to put its best foot forward.

Goalie Ondrej Pavelec wants to be at his best for the curtain call.

"We want to finish strong and it's going to be exciting for the fans and for us," said Pavelec. "We want to win and we will play hard to try and do that. The fans deserve it for all the support they've given us. It's been amazing to play at the MTS Centre this year."

For defenceman Zach Bogosian the chance to skate on more time in front of Jets fans is an opportunity he doesn't want to miss. He also wants to let the people of Winnipeg know he and his teammates can't wait to come back next year.

"For a young guy who hopes to be around this organization for a long time it was a great experience to be here for the first year back," said Bogosian. "This is going to be special. It's been a real treat to play here in front of these passionate fans. I know we've had an up-and-down season but this last game will be memorable and be part of the foundation we're building that we as players hope will turn into a winning organization that rewards fans again and again."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 7, 2012 C6

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