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Season-ticket hopefuls invited to practice

Jets put on a show for thousands on wait list

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ON Saturday, the Winnipeg Jets invited their season-ticket waiting list customers to a practice at the MTS Centre, and several thousand watched the club go through its drills for about an hour, concluding with a shootout practice.

Coach Claude Noel was miked during the practice and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff addressed the crowd after the session was over.

"Those are difficult practices to do," Noel said later. "I don't think the players want to showboat or embarrass each other so you don't get a lot out of practice.

"It's difficult on the players. It's like an invasion of their normal routine, but that stuff is good to do. It's really good support, lots of people out there."


Coach gets a snow shower

An amusing scene took place late in the practice on Saturday.

Normally, when the coach calls the players in to outline the next drill, the last player to the "huddle" must skate a "punishment" lap.

Saturday, it was Nik Antropov who skated, but when he arrived back to the group, he slammed on the brakes and gave defenceman Mark Stuart and Noel quite a snow shower.

Noel was jokingly asked if Antropov is still in the lineup. "He will be. We know he can stop," Noel smiled. "I found that out, too. You have to have a little humour in this job."


Kane's in the sweet spot

Jets left-winger Evander Kane is well into his most productive stretch of the year.

He has an eight-game points streak going, third-best among active streaks in the NHL, with seven goals and seven assists. That doesn't count his shootout winner Feb. 16 in Minnesota.

Can he keep it up?

"I think there's definitely pressure," Kane said Saturday. "When you're supposed to be one of the top players on the team, you've got to have that pressure and you have to live up to it.

"Offensively playing well and playing some of my best hockey, for the last 16 games it's going to have to be what happens. Every guy in this room is going to have to play his best in order for us to make the playoffs. I think everybody's feeling that pressure but it's a good thing."

Kane's production has followed his quietest time of the season. From Dec. 31 to Feb. 7, he didn't score a single goal and missed seven games due to concussion.


Jones is keeping up

When the Jets shuffled their roster at the trading deadline, moving Johnny Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks for a couple of draft picks, it revised the unofficial depth chart.

Defenceman Randy Jones appears to be suddenly in the team's top six.

"I'm looking forward to this," Jones said Saturday. "There's nothing written in stone. I have to go out and play, play hard and perform. Just because there was a move made and some changes happen doesn't mean anything's written in stone. I have to do anything I can to help the team."

Because of injuries, mainly recently to Zach Bogosian, Jones has been in eight straight games after being scratched for seven.

No matter the circumstance, he said his preparations haven't and won't change, that it's his job to be ready.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 4, 2012 B3

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