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Thorburn feeling fine about future

Five-year veteran has 'a lot of good years left'

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WHILE he bides his time, eager like most of his fellow NHLers to get back on the ice, Winnipeg Jets grinding right-winger Chris Thorburn has immersed himself in the issues and decided not to whip himself into a frenzy that the lockout is about him.

Many think it's the "little guy" who's not young anymore who's about to get squeezed in any potential resolution to the NHL's labour impasse.

Thorburn, at 6-foot-3 and a bruising 225 pounds, is no little guy, but he's a physical forward not playing first- or second-line minutes who would make $850,000 for the coming season if there is one, well less than the average salary of $2.4 million.

And he's 29, a five-year, full-time veteran of the NHL.

"Squeezed? I haven't thought about it that way," Thorburn told the Free Press from his off-season Atlanta home on Tuesday. "I think for me, I've been fortunate not to have been too banged up over my career. Where my body's at right now, I feel pretty good that I have a lot of good years left.

"And a lot to prove. Last year was kind of a down year, from a statistical standpoint, and it's something I want to bounce back from and I feel that I can."

While he may have had his best year in terms of hits (151), 2011-12 produced a career-low 11 points and four goals.

"I'm 29 and I feel like there's a lot of hockey left in my body and I'm as energized as ever," Thorburn said. "Maybe it'll be that this break will be a blessing in disguise, that guys like myself, crashing and banging every night, will have rested their wounds and when it's time to get back at it, we'll go full tilt."

As for Tuesday's new offer from the NHL, Thorburn said he spoke directly with the Jets player rep Ron Hainsey late Tuesday night.

"He said this is something, that's what it is," Thorburn said. "Now the PA has to go over it pretty extensively over the next few hours and into (Wednesday) and hopefully come back with something.

"It's something to build off of, but what the plan going forward was, he didn't know a lot tonight."

Asked if Hainsey left him feeling more optimistic or pessimistic, Thorburn said: "From Ron, for me personally, I do get kind of an optimistic feeling.

"I really do, which is good. but at the same, both sides have to make sure it's right for both sides. We feel the next 10 days will be crunch time to nail something down."

Thorburn said he couldn't predict how or when the lockout will end. The Jet's experiences in the last two seasons, however, are one reason he's got some optimism if there's a deal in sight.

"That's something, the last bunch of months with our team," he said. "Not many people have gone through something like this, one year you get moved, the next year you're in a lockout.

"But the thing is, the core group of our guys have gone through these things together and I think that creates some unity, brings us together. That bodes well and I think that's going to transfer onto the ice. We've been through some hard times together, and some hard times could be coming in the hockey aspect of it, so it'll help build us as a team the character within each player."

While the NHL has been at a standstill, Thorburn said he's also been paying attention to his fitness.

"It's been pretty simple; I just stick to my routine," he said.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 17, 2012 C4

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