December 6, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Five games into his stint with the Winnipeg Jets, centre Mike Santorelli seems to fit like he's always been here.
Claimed via waivers from the Florida Panthers on April 2, the 27-year-old Vancouver native has been matched to a line with left-winger Eric Tangradi and centre Alex Burmistrov.
It may not be a permanent combination but it's been more than useful as the Jets have won the first four games of their six-game homestand.
It was continued Tuesday night as Santorelli and Andrew Ladd scored shootout goals to help the Jets win 4-3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"I was pretty nervous going into it," said Santorelli. "I just kind of stuck with what I knew and luckily it went in."
Luck hasn't been everything, though. Santorelli is a career 10 for 19 in the shootout.
"We knew all that stuff," Jets coach Claude Noel said about his new forward's shootout abilities. "We do our homework. He's been skating well. He's been playing well for us.
"He's got some good chemistry, good forecheck. He's done some good things for our team, past the shootout. He's a guy who has shown he can score at this level."
Santorelli had 20 goals for the Panthers two seasons ago.
It's the second time in his career he's changed franchises. A Nashville pick in 2004, he played for the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals and the NHL Predators but went to the Panthers in 2010.
"It's part of the business," said the veteran of 203 NHL games. "You're here one day .... I was very fortunate with the move. Things weren't working out there so I'm happy I was getting picked up by a good team like this, especially at an exciting time of year right now.
"The guys here are great. They've been helping me out all along, giving me information. The coaching staff as well.
"Last night was a big win and I'm glad we got the two points."
Tuesday's game was the most Noel has used the Santorelli-Burmistrov, Tangradi line in the short time they've been together.
"To go out there and just do what you do best, play responsible, and play hard, well, those two guys have been great as well," Santorelli said. "They've really helped me out.
"Again, it's communication and what should happen here and there. Been really great with those two."
He had just two goals for Florida this season, in 24 games, before the team waived him but there was little issue for him in the transition to the Jets.
"I think we play with a lot of speed here," he said. "But right now, every team's tightening up defensively and the mindset is to play with a lot of speed."
Before the NHL returned to action in January, Santorelli played briefly for Tingsryds AIF in Sweden.
"I had some fun," he said. "I went to go play with my brother (younger brother Mark). That was one of the reasons I went, but obviously to stay sharp, too."
THE Jets have done nothing so far to encourage a tradition of Jets 1.0, the whiteout.
They refused to support or endorse the idea with the NHL-return-to-Winnipeg games in the fall of 2011 and several fan efforts to restart the practice were barely noticeable.
You might want to launder those whites for the short-term future, however. Things might be changing.
Team officials weren't interested in the conversation Wednesday about whiteouts in a potential playoff appearance this spring.
"From an organizational standpoint, we don't think it's appropriate to talk about this until the time is right," Jets director of corporate communication Scott Brown said Wednesday. "But when the time is right, we'll talk about it."
There are hints the Jets are ready to have their fans go white for any post-season action at the MTS Centre, even though home teams wear dark in today's NHL.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd was asked by The Canadian Press about the scenario on Wednesday.
"The whiteout is the most appealing thing, and being a part of where that all started would be, for me, something that would be pretty cool to play in front of," Ladd told CP.
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 18, 2013 D3
Updated on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM CDT:
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