Back in business
SOME noteworthy items, tidbits, quotes and notes as the NHL gets back to work...
BOTTOM THIRD: Sports Illustrated's latest power rankings have the Jets ranked 20th. Writer Adrian Dater provides this take:
"Was there a city more afraid of losing the season than Winnipeg? It had to wait 15 years to get the NHL back, after all. This is a very hard team to predict. The Jets play well in their own packed barn and they have some nice young talent, led by Evander Kane, up front. But they remain a team without much true star power. They'll scrape by and be competitive, but until they get more top-end talent, they seem destined to come up just short of the playoffs again."
Interestingly, Dater had the Edmonton Oilers ranked third, just behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. Rounding out the top five were Vancouver and Boston while the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings come in at 6.
MORE TO COME: Ondrej Pavelec came clean on his DUI over the summer and Jets owner Mark Chipman said Thursday in a conference call there may be further penance. But...
"Until I have a chance to meet with him face to face," said Chipman, I'd prefer not to discuss what those consequences might be."
BIG SCRAP: Those who like a good-old fashioned dust-up should check out this YouTube clip of Winnipegger Frazer McLaren, who got into a nasty tilt against Portland Pirates forward Joel Rechlicz on Tuesday.
A seventh-round draft pick, (203rd overall) of the San Jose Sharks, McLaren -- who played seven games with the NHL club last year -- has spent most of this year in the AHL with the Sharks' farm club in Worcester.
Those two clubs have combined for 29 fighting majors in seven games this year and meet again this Sunday in Worcester.
Kane in top form
PATRICK KANE is already in midseason form in the stitches-to-the-lip department.
The Chicago Blackhawks forward hopes his time spent in Switzerland -- despite the elbow to the face he absorbed in his final game with HC Biel -- will mean his skills will be at a similarly high level when the Blackhawks' lockout-shortened season kicks off Jan. 19 against the Kings in Los Angeles.
"It's going to be big for me," Kane said Thursday after an informal practice with teammates at Johnny's IceHouse West in Chicago. "Before I came back I played eight games in 10 days or something like that -- at one point it was five in five nights. It was really good for my conditioning and skating. I'm happy I did it, it was a good experience and hopefully it helps me during the season."
Kane had 13 goals and 10 assists in 20 games with Biel and also played in the Spengler Cup for HC Davos. That experience, obviously, is quite a bit more than those players who did not go overseas during the 113-day lockout and could mean a fast start for Kane, who had 23 goals and 43 assists in 82 games for the Hawks last season.
-- Chicago Tribune