Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Thorburn itchin' to return to lineup

Veteran Jets winger wants his old gig back

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No offence, Winnipeg Jet fans, but Chris Thorburn has lived your life and done the couch-potato thing. He's cheered every Jet goal and cursed every loss.

But now he wants his old gig back -- the one where he bangs and crashes as part of the GST checking line, scores the odd goal, drops his gloves occasionally and lives and breathes the game as a participant.

And that should come soon, what with the veteran winger joining the team on their four-game road trip that begins Friday against Carolina and expected to be back in the lineup for the first time since injuring his leg in a loss to Calgary on March 9.

"I've been skating since last week and I'm feeling great, better and better each day," Thorburn said. "So hopefully soon I can get back in the lineup.

"I want to get back. No one likes being out so I want to make sure that the injury has healed and I'm ready to go. It's nothing serious. It's just something that had to take some time."

What was particularly awful for Thorburn is the injury came during the Jets push for a playoff spot. And for a guy who has long dreamed of appearing in the Stanley Cup derby but never had a chance, his absence during the last couple of weeks was especially painful.

"Over the last few years I always wanted to play playoff hockey. I haven't had the opportunity to do that," Thorburn said. "This is the closest the team I've been on has been as far as playoff hockey goes... not to be a part of it was killing me.

"I haven't watched this much hockey... over the past week it's been non-stop. I've been our biggest fan, I think, going through the ups and downs even though I'm not there."

-- REMEMBERING SNYDER: The Jets will be awarding the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy to one of their own at their final home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 7, keeping alive one of the traditions started by the Atlanta Thrashers.

Snyder was a popular member of the Thrashers who died six days after being in a car accident in 2003, the vehicle being driven by then teammate Dany Heatley, now with the Minnesota Wild. The Thrashers honoured Snyder by instituting the trophy in his name, given to the player "who best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition so that his teammates might succeed."

The Jets have invited the Snyder family to Winnipeg for the ceremony. According to Fox Sports South, Snyder's father Graham will attend as will his son, Jake; Jake's wife, Dawn; and the couple's two boys, one of whom, Reed Daniel, got his middle name from his late uncle.

The Jets have planned to honour Snyder all along, but there's also a non-Thrashers connection to this story: Snyder won a AHL title in 2001-02 with the Chicago Wolves. And the Wolves GM was Kevin Cheveldayoff.

"Chevy was a big part of Dan's career," Graham Snyder told FS Sports this week. "I know I talked to him a number of times when Dan was playing there and I was always impressed with the way he ran his hockey team and also with just the man. As the man, I thought he was a real good guy.

"Having known a little about Winnipeg, I just knew that they'd be pretty passionate and they've certainly shown that this year. I'm very happy that they're going to choose to remember that award and continue it."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 29, 2012 D2

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