Jim Slater has never had problems finding stuff to do in Winnipeg.
Last winter, as part of the popular Take a Jet to Work feature that the good folks at Jets TV put together, Slater -- among other things -- was a firefighter for a day, did some welding, worked with the police K-9 unit and admittedly failed miserably in his attempt to play the French horn with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
So, upon his arrival in Winnipeg this week -- he worked out with some teammates for the first time Monday morning at MTS Iceplex -- it was only natural to ask what he might have planned with all the free time the NHL lockout has given him.
French horn lessons, perhaps?
"No," he said with a grin. "But, honestly, if anyone wants to come knocking I'm ready to do that stuff.
"Right now I'm just getting re-acclimated to the city... grocery shopping and getting stuff for the condo. We're still humans and like to do human things. This city has what you need to have fun and there's times you can get out of the city and go fishing. I've got no problem being here and finding things to do."
Slater joined some of the usual suspects at the Iceplex Monday, including Olli Jokinen, Alex Burmistrov, Mark Stuart, Antti Miettinen, Derek Meech, Ivan Telegin, Jason Gregoire and Kevin Clark after spending much of the summer at home in Michigan.
"I'm paying on my condo now and so I might as well live in it," said Slater with a chuckle. "It's a great city. I like being here, I like the people, so that's my plan for the rest of the time."
Slater is coming off what was an important year for him. He missed the second half of the 2010-11 season in Atlanta with post-concussion symptoms, but was solid in his first year in Winnipeg. Centring the popular GST line along with Tanner Glass and Chris Thorburn, Slater posted career-high totals in goals (13) and points (21), suited up for the United States at the World Hockey Championship and this spring signed a new three-year $4.8-million deal with the Jets.
"It's good to be out there," said Slater. "Obviously meeting some of the new guys it was nice to get the small talk out of the way. It's great to be back and be back with your teammates again. The fans are definitely expecting more, we're expecting more of our team. We had some great additions this year that Chevy (GM Kevin Cheveldayoff) made and I'd like to see them get on the ice and put it all together. When you see names like that coming here to Winnipeg it definitely gives you a boost. Playing against Jokinen and Ponikarovsky for years now... they're big guys, they're tough guys to play against, they're very skilled. It's fun to have those guys on your side."
As for the zillion-dollar question -- when will the lockout end? -- Slater is like every other hockey type, watching, waiting and keeping his fingers crossed.
"I don't think anybody (has a sense for when it will end)," Slater said. "I wish we did. We have our points we want to make, they have their points and somewhere along the way we've got to meet in the middle and figure them out. Hopefully, it's sooner rather than later."
Ed.firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @WFPEdTait
no progress / lockout notebook c2