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So, with further fan fare...

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Enthusiastic crowd for workout

 

THE Jets were pleased to be back in front of their fans, officially, for the first time since the lockout ended, with Sunday's open practice. About 5,000 showed up on short notice at the MTS Centre. "It was fantastic," said Blake Wheeler, the team's leading scorer in 2011-12. "We all know how privileged we are to play in a market like this. To have that kind of reception... that might be some team's home game's (attendance) in the early going. It was awesome. It was great to be back and to have meaningful practices again with a direction. I've kind of had that for a little bit, but for a lot of guys this was their first real meaningful practice in a long time. It was great to be out there as a group again to start the process."

 

Impressive Day One

 

WE liked Mark Scheifele, Kyle Wellwood, Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien. The fans were into all of them on Sunday.

 

Poni has lots of giddyup

 

ALEXEI Ponikarovsky played his final KHL game a week ago Sunday, then flew to his Florida home last Monday to spend a few days with his family. His final leg to Winnipeg, on Saturday, was only a few hours, so he showed no signs of jet lag.

 

Measuring progess

 

JETS coach Claude Noel is aware not every player is starting training camp in the same conditioning place. But he's not prejudging these results. "I need to see who's at the top of their game as the week goes on," he said. "What you're going to have to measure here is the players who have played, been in the American league or in Europe and have been playing, they're going to look good at the start. But how's this going to shape up when you hit Wednesday-Thursday and the other guys hit their stride?

 

Pressure's on Pavs to play well

 

ASKED if Ondrej Pavelec might play 40 games this season, Noel said: "I wouldn't put a number on it because it's going to be based on performance. We're going to have to really monitor energy level and fatigue. You're going to have to be in touch with your goaltending guy and your medical guy with regards to your goaltending and how he's feeling. You're going to have to be plugged in to your goalie coach."

 

Antro a no-go

 

NIK Antropov was not allowed on the ice for Sunday's opening-day workout, having failed his physical. The veteran forward has a small "upper-body ailment" according to coach Claude Noel, and will be listed as day-to-day and assessed during the week.

 

Montoya won't be idle

 

NOEL said early on, he's a fan of backup goalie Al Montoya. "We brought Al Montoya here to play," he said. "How many games is that? We don't know. I like his attitude. I like the way he works. I think we're getting Al Montoya here in a good situation because I think he's at a point in his career where he understands things. How will it be managed? It will probably be managed like everything else: and that will be from the seat of my pants."

 

Top pick toughs it out

 

MARK Scheifele arrived in camp just past a flu bug and an annoying travel delay home after the World Junior. It didn't look like it bothered him Sunday. "I liked him," Noel said. "I thought he was good. I thought he battled hard and scored a couple of goals that he had to earn. Well see where he lands and where that goes."

 

Noel does Scheifele shuffle

 

ONE more from Noel, when asked what line or with whom he envisioned Scheifele playing:

"All that stuff will play out. I mean, I know you guys will read into this. He's on the third line, the second line, the first line... if you guys wouldn't mind, could you just let me know who is first, second, third and fourth line? That would be appreciated. Then I can call them as such."

 

-- Tim Campbell, Ed Tait

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 14, 2013 ??65534

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