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This article was published 12/10/2012 (1444 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The uniform colours and nicknames aren't what he pictured in those moments when he daydreams. And the road-trip itineraries were to feature luxury dining on a chartered airplane, not sub sandwiches and a Greyhound bus.
But Mark Scheifele is hardly complaining.
He had a game in Oshawa right in front of him Friday night; an 8-5 win over Saginaw from Thursday fading in the rear-view mirror.
Still, not a day goes by without the Winnipeg Jets' first-round pick from 2011 dreaming about what could have been, save for this blasted lockout. It could have been, should have been, a home opener Saturday at a sold-out MTS Centre against the Carolina Hurricanes followed by date with Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks next Tuesday and a Washington-Philadelphia road trip after that.
All as part of a lifelong National Hockey League dream he had hoped by now would be realized.
"I'm like everybody else: I hope the lockout can sort itself out soon," said Scheifele in a telephone interview Friday.
"But to have a spot to play really helps. You can still work on your game, you can still develop. So it's definitely a silver lining to this whole thing."
The Scheifele question -- is he ready for the NHL? -- would have been one of the key storylines to monitor if the Jets had gone to training camp. Still could be, if and when the NHL and the NHL Players' Association can stop their posturing, roll up their sleeves and get a deal done.
And, make no mistake, as much as Jets management doesn't want to rush him to the pros, Scheifele still wanted to force their hand -- just as he was doing last year when he led the team in scoring during the preseason before being sent back to junior after seven NHL games.
"I definitely wanted to be there for main camp and do what I did last year and work my hardest to do whatever I could to make the team," Scheifele said.
"It's tough not to be there and I think about it a lot, but you have to think about the other positives.
"If you start thinking only about that... you need to stay with what's directly in front of you and work on that. But it's always in the back of your mind, the NHL. All you can try to do is block it out as much as you can."
Scheifele is leading a solid Colts team -- first in the OHL's Central Division -- with four goals and eight assists (heading into Friday's action), totals which have him tied for third overall in the scoring race. But it's not just about goals and assists for the big Kitchener, Ont., product.
The Jets want him to develop more layers to his game, including work in the defensive zone and in the face-off circle. And his coach with the Colts, none other than Jets legend Dale Hawerchuk, has been stressing another aspect that is critical: to just let the game come to him rather than try to create a highlight-of-the-night goal on every shift.
"Dale talks to me a lot about that," Scheifele said.
"He always says, 'live for another moment.' It means you don't have make every shift one where you are trying to score a goal. Sometimes it's, 'don't get scored on, play your game and don't worry so much about getting a goal. If it's not happening for the first 30 seconds, get off and then go at it for the next shift.' It's something I'm working on and Dale has really helped me with it.
"The biggest thing is being able to handle what happens at a pro game: pushing the pace, working in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill."
And it's here where Scheifele finishes his thought with the latest in a series of comments since he was first drafted that has Jet brass beaming and fans already getting his name and number 55 stitched on new jerseys.
"I'm maturing overall as a player," he explained.
"The key is, I want to be able to do it all. I don't want to be known as one-dimensional."
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CHECKING IN ON THE KIDS
A quick glance at how the Jet draft picks over the last two years are developing:
THE 2012 DRAFT CLASS
NAME ROUND/OVERALL POS TEAM
Jacob Trouba 1/9 D Michigan Wolverines
Solid debut for the Wolverines with a goal and an assist in a loss Thursday; expected to be a big-time component to the American squad at the world junior.
Lukas Sutter 2/39 C Saskatoon Blades
Has one goal and one assist through eight games and is a minus-4, but still on the radar screen for Canada at the WJHC.
Scott Kosmachuk 3/70 RW Guelph Storm
Pure sniper had 30 goals in 67 games a year ago and already has five in seven this year.
Connor Hellebuyck 5/130 GU Mass-Lowell Riverhawks
His school opened their season Friday against Vermont as an early-season favourite (ranked 6th); but Hellebuyck -- the co-rookie and co-goaltender of the year last season with the Odessa Jackalopes of the NAHL -- will have to fight for work in the Riverhawks net as a freshman.
Ryan Olsen 6/160 C Kelowna Rockets
Off to a solid start with the Rockets with five goals -- three of them on the power play -- and seven points in eight games
Jamie Phillips 7/190 G Michigan Tech Huskies
Now in college after playing Junior A last year with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens; did not play in their season-opening loss to Lake Superior State on Thursday.
THE 2011 DRAFT CLASS
NAME ROUND/OVERALL POS TEAM
Mark Scheifele 1/7 C Barrie Colts
So much expected of him, but his game is developing. Scoring touch still there with four goals and eight assists through first eight.
Adam Lowry 3/67 LW Swift Current Broncos
Still-growing power forward (he's now listed at 6-5, 201) leads the Broncos in goals (5) and points (9).
Brennan Serville 3/78 D Michigan Wolverines
More will be asked of the smooth-skating defender now that he is a sophomore.
Zach Yuen 4/119 D Tri-City Americans
A stay-at-home D-man who last year tied for the WHL's best plus/minus rating with a plus-45. Has a goal and two assists (minus-1 rating) through eight games this year.
Austen Brassard 5/149 RW Belleville Bulls
Not exactly lighting it up yet. Was a minus-4 in one game in late September and has three goals in seven games.
Jason Kasdorf 6/157 G RPI Engineers
One of three netminders at RPI, the freshman will have to battle two older puck stoppers for work this year. Open this weekend against Ferris State.
Aaron Harstad 7/187 D Colorado College Tigers
The team's top rookie a year ago, Harstad will play a key role this year for CC. They open this weekend against Clarkson.