Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Zach's back but Jets won't rush him

His skills will make him useful in near future

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Some assistance from defenceman Zach Redmond might be in the cards in the coming days and weeks but the Winnipeg Jets seem to be bending over backwards not to rush the process.

Again.

Redmond, who at 25 still qualifies as an NHL rookie, has played only eight games in the league so far, those right before a near-catastrophic skate cut to his leg during a game-day skate early this year.

But his variety of his skills combined with his gameness could well make him a useful addition before long.

"It's hard to tell from a pre-game skate," Jets coach Claude Noel said of the decision to hold Redmond out of Monday's lineup against the Detroit Red Wings. "I'm happy to have him back. He's a real good teammate. What he's gone through, it's been good he's been able to get himself back.

"I'd like him to practise with us. That's not the decision (today). He's a hundred per cent ready to go. I would feel more comfortable with him getting a little bit of time with us."

It hasn't been an easy road to this recall, one that happened Sunday.

Redmond, after all he went through last season -- surgery, rehab and potentially his career flashing before his eyes -- was injured again in early October, right after he was sent down at the end of training camp.

A knee injury in practice kept him out of AHL action with the St. John's IceCaps until last weekend.

And with the Jets suffering with defenders Jacob Trouba, Paul Postma and Mark Stuart on the injured reserve list, he's here and hoping to continue the good impressions left in the early days of last season.

"It's been a journey the last year," Redmond said Monday. "Just got moved in down there and got back with the team, and now here I am back in the hotel and back with this team. I love both places and this opportunity is all I can ask for."

He did make it back to play with the IceCaps last spring. He was recalled to the Jets in the dying days of their failed quest for a Stanley Cup playoff spot but didn't see any action.

Now he's been on the recovery road once again.

"The practices seem to get me," Redmond joked. "I usually stay out of trouble in the games.

"I don't feel cursed, really. The stuff happens. I know it definitely gets old and you wonder when you're going to catch a break, but here I am, so I guess I caught it.

"Things change just like that. Blessed to be up here."

Another reason there just seems to be a positive vibe around Redmond and his story is he has perspective on the big picture.

He was sent down after camp as the only defenceman with a two-way contract, but Monday said he has absolutely no beef with that.

"I think I've done everything I can for them," Redmond said. "I think they know that. That's the business side of the game. It's sometimes tough being a player but I think it would be even tougher to be a GM and have some of those decisions to make.

"I trust Chevy (Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff) and the coaching staff and I know they're making the best decisions they can for the team. It's not my job to question them. Like I said, I'm just happy to be here and hopefully I can make a good enough impression where I can stay here the rest of the year."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2013 C3

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