It's different in the West
IT'S still the National Hockey League, but the guys in the know say the style of play Winnipeg Jets fans will see now the Jets are no longer in the Eastern Conference will be different.
"I don't know if there's a huge difference, but there's definitely a difference," Jets forward Evander Kane said Tuesday. "I think the West is a little more tight-checking, it's bigger, I'd probably say it's even a little slower than the East...
"I enjoyed the East -- it was more run and gun, an open style. But I'm looking forward to getting into some different cities and different buildings and win some hockey games."
Jets captain Andrew Ladd was asked if it's daunting moving into a new Central Division with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.
"In my opinion, I think it will be good for us -- looking at what some of those teams have done in the past and realizing we will have to take our game to the next level to be able to challenge those guys for a playoff spot.
"I think the last two years, we've played our best hockey against the top teams and it seems to bring the best out of us, for whatever reason. So hopefully it does that from the get-go this year."
Devin Setoguchi, one of the newest Jets, spent the last six seasons in the Western Conference as a member of the San Jose Sharks and, most recently, the Minnesota Wild.
He said some of the geographical realignment that went along with the Jets switching conferences should make things easier on everyone.
"I know last year in Minnesota we travelled like 32,000 miles and that was a lot," said Setoguchi. "The realignment is nice."
On IQ scale of 1-10, a 10
SETOGUCHI, probably wisely, has decided to shed his customary number now that he's a member of a Winnipeg Jets team whose fan base equates the number '10' with royalty.
"'10' kind of has a history here," Setoguchi laughed Tuesday morning. "It's tough following up 50-goal seasons wearing number 10. Dale Hawerchuk did that pretty well, so I decided to go with something else. "
Hawerchuk, of course, played centre for nine seasons with the Jets, recording six seasons of 100 points or more and never averaging less than a point-per-game as a Jet.
Setoguchi, who was acquired from Minnesota in the off-season, said wearing '10' in Winnipeg "crossed my mind" but in the end he opted for a more unconventional hockey number that at least resembles his old number.
"'40' kind of looks like '10,'" said Setoguchi, "just with a little mark on it...A number is one thing, but it's more about what's on the front, not what's on the back."
Setoguchi carries big shot
LADD said he likes what he's seen out of Setoguchi. "He's got a hell of a shot. He's a guy that can score a lot of goals. And anyone who's followed us the last couple of years know we need probably a little more secondary scoring.
"He'll give us that and hopefully he can find chemistry with whoever he's put with. He's definitely a guy, if you get him the puck in the right spot, he's going to put it into the net."
Jokinen vows bounce-back
THE rumours of Olli Jokinen's demise have been greatly exaggerated, says Jokinen.
Asked on Tuesday if he thought he had another big season in him after what was a disappointing season last year, Jokinen was bold.
"I think I'm going to have five or six big seasons left. I'm not nearly as done as you guys think," said the 34-year-old centre. "I've been playing a long time and still feel like I can play a bunch."
Jokinen had seven goals and seven assists in 45 games last season.
Keane on board
THE Winnipeg Jets have added local hockey legend Mike Keane as their assistant of player development.
A three-time Stanley Cup winner who played 1,161 career NHL games in Montreal, Colorado, New York (Rangers), Dallas, St. Louis and Vancouver, Keane wrapped up his career in Winnipeg, where he was a member of the AHL's Manitoba Moose from 2005-2010.
The Jets announced Tuesday that Keane will work with Jimmy Roy -- the team's player development co-ordinator and a former Moose teammate -- and will focus in particular on developing and evaluating players on the club's AHL farm team in St. John's.
-- Paul Wiecek