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Training camp notebook

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Best offence good defence

JETS assistant coach Perry Pearn was handed the reins of much of Monday's practice at the MTS Centre.

The goal?

A focus on defensive methods and play.

"I think that one of the things you have to do to be a successful playoff team is you have to defend well," Pearn said. "Probably when you look at trying to improve as a team and make the playoffs, you want to give up less goals against."

It's surely an area for attention for the Jets, who surrendered 246 goals last season, among the NHL's worst.

"Probably what's more important than teaching or learning is the commitment the players make to it," Pearn said. "Playing defence in the National Hockey League is a mental skill.

"I think if you're committed to it and you want to be a good defensive player, you'll be a good defensive player. Our job as coaches is to convince players that by playing well without the puck, they're going to have more success with the puck."

Pearn said that skilled or offensive players make fine candidates to be good defenders.

"I've had the opportunity to work with some great players in Ottawa," Pearn said. "I always think about Marian Hossa, who to me is one of the best back-pressure guys in the National Hockey League. He turns back pressure into goals.

"When you play good defence ... the whole purpose of playing defence isn't because we want to play defence, the whole purpose is that we want the puck and we want to play with it.

"That's the one thing I see here, that we have a tremendous amount of offensive talent. So if we can play with the puck more, I think we're going to be more successful."

Regional coverage expanded

The Jets and TSN announced Monday that their regional-network coverage of the team's games this season has been expanded by four to 38.

The package of broadcasts on the digital channel begins Monday, with the Jets at Boston for a noon CT start.

The four games added to the already announced package included Feb. 12 and 23, both home games against Philadelphia, March 30 at home vs. Carolina and April 20 at home vs. the Islanders.

Burmi has friend in Noel

Alex Burmistrov has been under the microscope since this franchise relocated from Atlanta. But his game is growing. And he has a big fan in head coach Claude Noel.

"He's a really dependable player, a good player," said the Jets head coach. "He can play a lot of different ways and eventually his offence is going to catch up. That's just a matter of time and sometimes you don't know with young players.

"I know Burmi, I like him. I don't see him as a guy I'm looking to take out, I'm looking to help him."

Building a better trap

"We talked about cutting our goals against down. Well, are you just going to talk about it or what are you going to do? You have to restructure. If you built the foundation last year, then how are you going to tighten the bolts?" -- Noel.

NHL: Arrogance in action

#hockeyisback? Really? ESPN's John Buccigross hits it just about right with the word "arrogant," when it comes to the NHL's invented slogan and Twitter hashtag #hockeyisback.

"This is nice, NHL, but a little arrogant" Buccigross posted. "You aren't hockey. You are a small part. Hockey never went anywhere. You did." That's a hallelujah from street, minor hockey, community club, rep, high school, college, junior, AHL, ECHL (and others) and rec and beer league players everywhere.

Doh! Jets! Doh!

Sports Illustrated football guru Peter King, who made no secret of his adoration of the new Jets logo -- Winnipeg Jets, not New York Jets -- found himself in a bit of a spot over the weekend.

Here's King, via his Monday Morning QB column on SI.com:

"We should be arriving in 15 minutes," the pilot said on approach to the Atlanta airport. "Temperature in Atlanta is 63 degrees." In the span of one evening and a morning in the air, I've gone from five layers in Denver to my Winnipeg Jets polo walking into the Georgia Dome. Stupidly, of course. Put the darn thing on Sunday morning forgetting that the Atlanta Thrashers turned into the Winnipeg Jets, and a couple of media folks gave a look like, "You couldn't have worn something a little less offensive here today?"

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 15, 2013 C3

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