December 12, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
In the almost two years since the new Winnipeg Jets made him their first draft pick, Mark Scheifele has progressed in leaps and bounds.
To the point where his junior coach, Jets 1.0 legend Dale Hawerchuk, said Wednesday that Scheifele is ready for the NHL.
"He's got experience under him, has some knowledge now that he didn't have two years ago," Hawerchuk said Wednesday.
"Will it be an easy, quick step into the NHL? It never is for anybody. I mean, when I was rookie of the year, in my first two weeks of training camp, whoa, it was so fast...
"But he's definitely ready, ready to go to the next level. I'll be surprised if he's not there ... I expect him to have a great camp and be ready."
-- Barrie head coach Dale Hawerchuk
on Mark Scheifele
Hawerchuk and Scheifele are dealing with some serious disappointment this week. Their Barrie Colts bowed out in the Ontario Hockey League's championship series in Game 7 on a video-reviewed goal with less than one second remaining that gave the game and the title to the London Knights.
Scheifele missed Monday's Game 7 due to a concussion suffered in Game 6, Hawerchuk said Wednesday. It's believed to be nothing horrific at this point, certainly nothing that requires the seventh-overall pick of 2011 to come to Winnipeg for any treatment.
"A slight concussion," Hawerchuk said. "It's funny because I've seen him take harder hits but I guess it's just the way he went in, he hit the ice and slide into the boards. It was a late hit and that's the thing when you're a go-to guy, you're a target everywhere.
"But it's a good thing to learn, that you've got to try to avoid that when you get to the next level.
"I remember the same thing my last year (of junior) when guys were running me. You learn to be pretty dodgy, find a way to get around it. And he obviously did that. He probably should have been MVP of the playoffs."
There was a strong case for it. Scheifele led the OHL playoffs in scoring with 15 goals and 41 points in 21 games.
This followed a regular season of 39 goals and 79 points in just 45 regular-season games. Scheifele spent time with the Jets and Team Canada at the World Junior that interrupted his OHL year.
In June, 2011 when the Jets drafted the Kitchener, Ont., native, Scheifele had just come off a season of 22 goals and 75 points in 66 OHL games and was considered both a bit of a surprise and an "up-and-comer."
Hawerchuk said he still sees that path for Scheifele, who will turn pro this fall after winning four playoff series in the last two springs.
"I would think they're (Jets) thinking he's a guy who should be ready next year and they'd have a spot for him, put him in a spot where there would be some ups and downs and growing pains, but at the end of the day, you take him high in the first round because you believe he's going to be that kind of guy for you," Hawerchuk said.
"He dominated at times, really dominated, and he had to learn to deal with not just a little bit of tight checking from every guy on the ice." Through three years of coaching Scheifele, Hawerchuk said the most difficult thing there was to teach him was the execution.
"To me, that's always putting up numbers every game, producing and pushing.
"Some guys you look at, you wonder, 'How does that guy not get 80 points in an NHL year?' But they're not pushers, producers. Some guys make seven-eighths of a great play but can't put the hammer down for that last one-eighth to get the result.
"That's the important part, putting the hammer down, making sure all that hard work you did to get there pays off."
The Colts were oh, so close to the payoff in the playoffs.
"It was just heartbreaking for the kids," Hawerchuk said. "We played so well, and our goalie played so well -- and he had to, because our top line was pretty much out for the last game.
"Plus we lost one of our defencemen with a broken collarbone but man, we played so good. But that's hockey, and sometimes it's a game of inches."
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 16, 2013 D3