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Intense media scrutiny catches some off guard

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We've all seen what the new kid in class has to endure on their first day -- get a cubbie or a locker, meet their fellow classmates, find a desk and be shown where the bathroom is.

At no time during the absolute blur of fear, apprehension and excitement of the day do they have to come face-to-face with a wall of microphones and cameras and explain how recess worked at their old school or their first impressions of their teacher or principal.

Therein lies perhaps the biggest challenge for new "kids" when they join the Winnipeg Jets. Luckily for Anthony Peluso, fresh from being picked up on waivers from the St. Louis Blues last week, he was tipped off about the media storm waiting for him when he finished his first practice by the Jets' senior director of corporate communications, Scott Brown.

Even so, when he stepped into the locker-room, he was shocked to see reporters, photographers and camera people from every media outlet in town, plus at least one from Toronto, anxious to get his take on his new situation.

"I've never done this before, so bear with me," he said, after removing his helmet and putting his gloves on a locker shelf.

No wonder. When he left the AHL's Peoria Rivermen, the lone reporter who covered the team called him before he left town.

"I got a little warning on the bench. If I didn't get that warning, I would have been a little more shocked with everybody standing by my stall," he said.

"The coverage here is second to none. I'm from Toronto, so I grew up with the Leafs. I've only heard stories of what players have to go through. Wow, that's true what people say. To come here and have 30 media people standing around is a little bit overwhelming at first but you just have to get through it," he said.

Grant Clitsome knows exactly what Peluso is going through. He arrived last February after being claimed on waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Before he left town, he got a couple of calls from the few reporters that cover the team on a regular basis.

"When I got here, it was more of a circus. I came off the ice (after the first practice) and you have a huge scrum of media around you. You don't know where to look, you have cameras and microphones in your face. (You think), 'This is for me? I can't believe this,' " he said.

There were times last year when Clitsome figured there would just be a couple of reporters in the locker-room after practice because the team hadn't played in a couple of days. He figured wrong.

"It turns out there was a full house. I think it's great. It means people care. People want to know what's going on and people want to cover that," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 23, 2013 C3

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Updated on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM CST: replaces photo

10:22 AM: adds fact box

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