Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Proud papa Slater sporting ear-to-ear grin

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Though he's struggled with injuries this season, Jets centre Jim Slater is wearing a smile like no other this week.

His first child, daughter Wyn Elizabeth, was born early Wednesday morning.

"I'm just thrilled," Slater said Friday, back at practice with his teammates. "Every time you look at her face brings a smile to yours. I'm loving it so far.

"You have to change your routine a little bit. I'm someone that wants to be hands on and help out. It's one of those things where no matter what happens in a game, you come home and you see her and it brightens your day."

Cigars are ready to go.

"I got 'em," Slater smiled. "I'm just waiting for the right time to pass them out."

-- -- --

It was remarked after Wednesday's overtime winner against Colorado it was the second-best extra-time goal Blake Wheeler has ever scored.

"I think they were talking about the one where I was at Minnesota and that one won a championship. That was pretty special, given the opponent, our bitter rival North Dakota, and the quality of that game," said Wheeler, referring to his WCHA championship winner seven years and two days previous to his strike on Wednesday. "That one's probably going to stand out for the rest of my life, until I get a big one here in the playoffs."

Wheeler has been getting a lot of questions about his patient effort in Wednesday's winning goal, when he hung onto the puck for what seemed like an eternity.

"I saw Posty (teammate Paul Postma) coming out of the corner of my eye and I turned and faced him a little bit and the puck actually came off my stick a little," Wheeler explained of his waiting to find something to do. "I was going to pass it, but saw their guy had him (Eric Johnson actually submarined Postma) and I kind of lost the puck and that might have been what caused him (Avs goalie Reto Berra) to bite so hard.

"Then, finally, when I regained control and looked up, the net was empty."

-- -- --

Postma, who has played just two games since being cleared for action in late January, factored into Wednesday's win with two assists.

He missed three months this season because of a blood clot in his leg and has been forced to be a patient extra in the Jets' story.

"It's been the most frustrating thing I've ever been through in my career, just for the amount of time I was out..." he said Friday.

When he was finally cleared to play, he couldn't crack the lineup.

"The coaches went with who they thought was going to be the most successful out there. I always have to be ready and last game was one of those situations where I was ready."

He's eager to show more, he said Friday.

"Honestly I don't think (head coach Paul) Maurice has really gotten the chance to see exactly what I can do out there," he said. "Hasn't really gotten the chance yet. I hope I get the chance to show him a little more of what I'm all about."

-- -- --

On the interesting new hairstyles sported by roommates Zach Bogosian and rookie Jacob Trouba this week, Jets teammate Evander Kane, himself a man of many hair looks, said this Friday: "That suits them. They look good, look mean. It's always good to have mean-looking players on your team. I'll take that."

-- -- --

Jets rookie Mark Scheifele was in full gear on Friday, but only for the annual team picture.

Scheifele, who hurt the MCL in his right knee on March 4, is out indefinitely. He is not close to returning.

"Everybody's angling for that (his return)," Maurice said Friday. "I said when Scheif was in his gear for the team picture: 'I'm going to get asked about how far off you are.' He's moving on the ice, trying a little bit."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2014 C4

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