Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Scheifele wants to dump 'prospect' tag

'NHLer' much more appealing term

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Mark Scheifele's objective remains exactly the same as a year and-a-half ago.

The Winnipeg Jets' first-round draft pick from 2011 wants to dump the adjective "prospect" and morph into a full-time National Hockey Leaguer.

And he'll have roughly two weeks to do it.

 

"I thought I could make it last year. That was my mindset," said Scheifele Saturday after an informal on-ice session at the MTS Centre that featured eight skaters and goaltender Al Montoya. "It's going to be the same this year. I'm coming in with the confidence I want to make this team.

"That's my goal: to stick with this team for the whole year. I'm going to do whatever it takes... and definitely come out with that confidence to know that I want to make that team."

Most Jet fans know Scheifele's story by now, but a Coles Notes refresher...

-- Picked seventh overall in 2011, he instantly won over legions of faithful with his megawatt smile and pure love of the game.

-- Stood out at training camp that fall, leading the Jets in scoring during the preseason.

-- Scored his first NHL goal in front of family at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and was then sent back to Barrie after seven games.

-- Played for Canada in the last two World Junior Championships, the last on right wing on the top line.

-- Put up 22 goals and 27 assists in 30 games with the Colts this season.

Now he's here again. A year older. Stronger. More committed. And versatile enough now to be looked at both as a centre and winger.

"I have to show that I have matured over last year. That's a big thing," Scheifele said. "I feel like I've matured a lot physically and mentally. I have to come in here feeling stronger, feeling bigger and feeling like I can play with everyone.

"I'd be willing to do anything. Playing wing at world junior maybe helps a little bit, but whatever situation they want me to be playing in to make this team I'm willing to do... even if it's goalie. Whatever it takes."

Scheifele would be able to play in five NHL games this condensed season before the Jets have to decide whether he stays -- and use up a year of his entry-level contract -- or send him back to the OHL.

"I'm not going to think about that at all," Scheifele said.

"I have to prove my name here at camp and show them that I'm able to play in games. However many it takes, I'm going to be working my hardest to make this team. That's what's on my mind.

"It would be very disappointing (to be sent back). Last year, going through it once... it's something you don't want to go through again. I think I have even more motivation because you know what happens when you do get sent home and you don't want that to happen again.

"I understood their decision. They did it in my best interests. It's a class organization. They want to help my career flourish. I'm going to listen to whatever they say and take in whatever they say because they're so willing to help."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

'Goodbye, don't come back'

 

WHAT Jets legend Dale Hawerchuk, the Colts' coach, told Scheifele before he left Barrie:

"He just said, 'Good luck and hopefully I won't see you back here'. He said to play your game and do what it takes to stick there."

Scheifele's response, said through a grin, when Jets Russian winger Alex Burmistrov borrowed a microphone and interrupted with this question: "Hey Mark, can you talk about the Russia-Canada game?"

"No comment."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 13, 2013 B2

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