Jason Bell

Jason Bell

Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

He went to the University of Winnipeg with the greatest of intentions, completing his undergraduate degree with an unexceptional 2.65 GPA — exactly what he deserved. Jason fared miserably on nearly every exam he took, but his short stories and essays were classics. He had mastered the art of BS, so a career in journalism seemed most appropriate.

He spent two productive years at Red River College in Creative Communications and was off and running on a career path in the newspaper business that wended its way through Arborg, Selkirk, Brandon and Winnipeg.

There were a few detours along the way, such as working in public relations for a non-profit organization and a stint in corporate communications. Jason even sold mattresses for one of the country’s largest manufacturers for a couple of years and can still recite coil counts and foam thicknesses.

In 2002, he hit the big time, joining the Free Press as a sports reporter and then moving into news a year later as a general assignment reporter. He worked a whole lot of Saturdays and Sundays those first few years, meaning he raced out to a whole lot of crime and collision scenes and house fires. He got to know cops, firefighters and lawyers. He talked with many grieving family members.

Luckily, he also covered high school and university athletics, Teddy Bear picnics, charity runs, Folkloramas, zoo animal births and other feel-good stories — the kind his lovely wife and two amazing kids prefer to read.

He was promoted to assistant city editor in 2007, and became the newspaper’s breaking news editor in 2012. He rejoined the sports department in mid-2016, covering the Jets, curling and a variety of amateur athletics, and was promoted to Sports Editor on April 11, 2022.

For Jason, much has changed in his years with the Free Press, but it’s still an awesome gig. He still gets a rush pursuing a story — The News Chase, as it were.

Recent articles of Jason Bell

Gunnlaugson, Carruthers reuniting for next Olympic cycle

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Gunnlaugson, Carruthers reuniting for next Olympic cycle

Jason Bell 4 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2022

Reid Carruthers and Jason Gunnlaugson are kicking it old school.

Adversaries on the ice for the better part of 15 seasons, the former teammates will reunite on a new men’s squad in time for the 2022-23 competitive season.

Carruthers, Gunnlaugson and Derek Samagalski curled three years together early in their men’s careers, losing the 2006 provincial final to Jeff Stoughton.

The trio has joined forces and will throw in that order, while Connor Njegovan plays lead.

Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2022

Barron busts in with a bang

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Barron busts in with a bang

Jason Bell 6 minute read Sunday, Apr. 3, 2022

Morgan Barron wasn’t exactly New York’s most highly touted prospect when the Rangers organization traded him to the Winnipeg Jets two weeks ago.

Yet, the Halifax product doesn’t have the characteristics of an after thought.

At 6-4, 220-pounds, Barron has plenty of size but moves well. In his second assignment with the Jets on Saturday night, he showed some jam on the forecheck during limited duty on the fourth line against the visiting Los Angeles Kings, while playing just nine even-strength shifts for about seven minutes of ice time in a 3-2 defeat.

Out with Nikolaj Ehlers in the final frame, Barron helped orchestrate a quality opportunity for the talented Dane to even the score and then had a backhand try of his own.

Sunday, Apr. 3, 2022

“The important thing for me was just to come in and try to play my best hockey,” said newest Jet Morgan Barron. (John Munson / The Associated Press files))

McEwen’s Manitoba champs splitting up

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McEwen’s Manitoba champs splitting up

Jason Bell 3 minute read Friday, Apr. 1, 2022

The reigning Manitoba men’s curling champions are going their separate ways.

Mike McEwen’s team from West St. Paul, ranked ninth in Canada and 13th in the world, will split following the Players Championship, a Grand Slam of Curling tour event set for Toronto in mid-April.

Each of McEwen, third Reid Carruthers, second Derek Samagalski and lead Colin Hodgson will be associated with new teams for the 2022-23 season, although none has divulged his intentions.

“We’re ending the four-year run… amicable, but we’re going our own ways and we all wish each other the best,” McEwen said Thursday. “We definitely had our ups and downs. But I had a ton of fun with these guys. The places we’ve been, the things that we’ve done, the camaraderie, it’s been special.”

Friday, Apr. 1, 2022

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Mike McEwen (centre) with Colton Lott (right) and second Derek Samagalski at the Brier earlier this month. The team will split up after a tournament in April. (Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press files)

Neufeld defends curling crown

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Neufeld defends curling crown

Jason Bell 3 minute read Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2022

The Randy Neufeld team was still savouring a third Manitoba senior men’s title when it was compelled to defend it just four months later.

And the La Salle foursome, set in stone for nearly a decade, got the job done, winning the 2022 provincial championship March 20 in Beausejour with a 9-4 defeat of Richard Muntain of Winnipeg’s Granite Club.

Neufeld and his teammates, Dean Moxham, Peter Nicholls and Dale Michie, had captured the ‘21 title Nov. 9. The championship was originally slated for February but was postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in one playdown on the heels of another.

“It was strange, that’s for sure. An interesting year. But still really exciting,” Nicholls said recently. “It never gets old winning the province.”

Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
The Randy Neufeld team was still savouring a third Manitoba senior men’s title when it was compelled to defend it just four months later.

Connor lone Jet to dodge COVID-19

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Connor lone Jet to dodge COVID-19

Jason Bell 5 minute read Monday, Mar. 28, 2022

Kyle Connor is in a class by himself — and it’s not just his sharp shooting that sets him apart.

The 25-year-old winger is the lone Winnipeg Jets regular to evade the COVID-19 virus since the outset of the global pandemic in 2020 and, thus, is the only one to suit up for all 67 games of the 2021-22 NHL season.

But his teammates are downplaying the first-time 40-goal-scorer’s good fortune.

“Let’s not jinx him,” said Adam Lowry after the morning skate, while Brenden Dillon rapped his knuckles on the table — it wasn’t wood — as they met with the media Sunday. “We just hope everyone stays healthy.”

Monday, Mar. 28, 2022

Winnipeg Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) and Arizona Coyotes’ Clayton Keller (9) battle for the puck during the first period of NHL action in Winnipeg on Sunday. (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)

Breakaway a heck of a break for Jets

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Breakaway a heck of a break for Jets

Jason Bell 6 minute read Sunday, Mar. 27, 2022

Blake Wheeler didn’t actually see the finished product but figured something good was happening. Indeed, there was.

Mark Scheifele picked up a loose puck, cruised in and scored the game-winning goal with just 9.7 seconds left in overtime to lift the Winnipeg Jets to a 2-1 triumph over the visiting Arizona Coyotes on Sunday night.

The goal was Scheifele’s second of the contest and 26th of the 2021-22 season.

Wheeler dug the puck out from a scrum along the boards near the Coyotes bench and chipped it up ice. His centre did the rest.

Sunday, Mar. 27, 2022

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Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele (55) celebrates his game-winning goal in overtime against the Arizona Coyotes with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) and Josh Morrissey (44) during NHL action in Winnipeg on Sunday March 27, 2022. (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)

Veteran Stastny hasn’t lost a step

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Veteran Stastny hasn’t lost a step

Jason Bell 7 minute read Friday, Mar. 25, 2022

Paul Stastny keeps making it difficult for the Winnipeg Jets to say enough is enough.

Contrary to popular belief, the veteran forward was still with the Central Division team by the time general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was mandated to put his phone down Monday afternoon when the NHL trade deadline hit.

It’s not known if there were any suitors for Stastny, set to become an unrestricted free agent when the 2021-22 season is complete, although it’s hard to imagine one of the serious Stanley Cup contenders wouldn’t have benefited from his skill, smarts and versatility down the stretch.

But the man heading up the Jets’ hockey operations maintained he had no intention of moving the 16-year veteran, noting the Jets are in far better shape to challenge for a spot in the post-season dance with Stastny than without.

Friday, Mar. 25, 2022

Winnipeg Jets centre Pierre-Luc Dubois sees his shot just goes high and wide of Ottawa Senators goaltender Anton Forsberg as Nick Holden defends Thursday night. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)

Friends reunited: Copp teaming up with Trouba again after trade to Rangers

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Friends reunited: Copp teaming up with Trouba again after trade to Rangers

Jason Bell 5 minute read Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2022

No matter how much time passes, Andrew Copp and Jacob Trouba always seem to find each other.

The Michiganders are together again in the Big Apple, following an NHL trade-deadline-day transaction Monday that sent Copp from the Winnipeg Jets to the New York Rangers.

“(Friends since) 10 years old,” Copp told reporters in Newark, N.J., Tuesday morning. “The last three years were the first years without each other. He takes credit for me being in the NHL to begin with. So, now it’s like I’m following him around.”

New York sent forward prospect Morgan Barron, two conditional second-round picks and a 2023 fifth-round pick to Winnipeg for the multi-purpose forward.

Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Former Winnipeg Jets Andrew Copp, right, and Jacob Trouba will be reunited after Copp was traded to the New York Rangers, Monday.

Teammate thrilled watching Mosienko set NHL record 70 years ago

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Teammate thrilled watching Mosienko set NHL record 70 years ago

Jason Bell 8 minute read Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2022

For decades, people have recounted the remarkable performance of March 23, 1952, at Madison Square Garden as though they’d seen it with their own eyes.

Fred Hucul earned the right to tell all the stories he wants. He had one of best seats inside the old barn that night in downtown Manhattan — and not as some casual spectator, either.

The pride of Tuberose, Sask., just 20 years old at the time, watched in awe from the Chicago bench as his high-flying teammate, the late William (Bill) Mosienko, fired pucks in rapid succession behind New York Rangers goalie Lorne Anderson.

In doing so, Mosienko set an everlasting record, registering the fastest hat trick in NHL history. The Winnipegger scored three goals in just 21 seconds — each assisted by centre Gus Bodnar — to propel the Blackhawks to a 7-6 comeback victory over the Rangers.

Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2022

Jets trade Copp, Beaulieu, Little

Jason Bell and Mike McIntyre 7 minute read Preview

Jets trade Copp, Beaulieu, Little

Jason Bell and Mike McIntyre 7 minute read Monday, Mar. 21, 2022

Draft-and-develop poster boy Andrew Copp is off to Broadway, while the Winnipeg Jets hope the acquisition of a pair of forwards of a similar ilk — including familiar face Mason Appleton — can fill the void he leaves behind.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made six separate deals between Sunday evening and the NHL’s trade deadline Monday at 2 p.m., the biggest involving a swap of Copp to the New York Rangers for draft picks and a prospect.

Copp. 27, is a pending unrestricted free agent who was not going to re-sign in Winnipeg this summer. Drafted out of the University of Michigan in 2013, he played 467 regular-season games and 34 playoff games with the franchise, registering 77 goals and 119 assists in that time.

“It’ll be a shame to say bye to a lot of these guys in the next couple of days, but I’m looking forward to a great opportunity in New York,” Copp told Sportsnet shortly after the deal was announced.

Monday, Mar. 21, 2022

The Jets also made a move to clear some future cap space, sending injured forward Bryan Little to the Arizona Coyotes. (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Small mistakes costly for Jets in 4-2 loss to Bruins

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Small mistakes costly for Jets in 4-2 loss to Bruins

Jason Bell 5 minute read Friday, Mar. 18, 2022

Small mistakes get magnified during the dog days of the NHL season, as illustrated Friday night at Canada Life Centre.

Under pressure, Winnipeg defenceman Brenden Dillon inadvertently flipped the puck over the glass in the Jets end, handing the Boston Bruins a power-play opportunity with just over five minutes left in regulation time.

Taylor Hall banged in his 13th goal of the season less than a minute later, sparking the Bruins to an eventual 4-2 triumph before a crowd of 14,191 — a sizeable chunk wearing Boston duds.

“It’s frustrating,” said Jets centre Adam Lowry. “It’s in the rulebook and the puck rolls up on you, there’s not a lot you can do. It would have been nice for us to be able to get the kill for (Dillon). Unfortunately, that was the difference.”

Friday, Mar. 18, 2022

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Taylor Hall scores the game winner during the third period in Winnipeg Friday. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)

Copp held out of lineup as precaution

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Copp held out of lineup as precaution

Jason Bell 5 minute read Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2022

Andrew Copp was a spectator Tuesday night but remains a valuable asset.

The Winnipeg Jets forward was held out of an NHL meeting with the Vegas Golden Knights at Canada Life Centre.

Copp, 27, apparently did not suffer a concussion Sunday in St. Louis, however, he was scratched as a precaution. The product of Ann Arbor, Mich., left the game after a taking a neutral-zone hit from Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist early in the third period.

The check wasn’t over the line, although Copp had his head down and was in a vulnerable spot.

Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2022

Jeff Roberson / The Associated Press
Andrew Copp left Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Blues after taking a hit during the second period.

Brossoit getting busy

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Brossoit getting busy

Jason Bell 5 minute read Monday, Mar. 14, 2022

Laurent Brossoit is the busiest he’s ever been in the NHL.

But you’ll hear no grumbling from the veteran goaltender, who is finally receiving the thing he’s desire most — a heavier workload — from his current employer, the Vegas Golden Knights.

And now, his assignments might really start piling up.

Head coach Peter DeBoer’s go-to guy has been Robin Lehner — with 38 starts — but the No.1 netminder returned to Vegas after sustaining a lower-body injury in Philadelphia and was seen using crutches early last week. Rookie goalie Logan Thompson was between the pipes Sunday in a 6-4 road defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Monday, Mar. 14, 2022

ELLEN SCHMIDT / ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Laurent Brossoit inked a two-year with Vegas, with an annual cap hit of $2.3 million, a pricetag that far exceeded the Jets budget.

McEwen calls it a career

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McEwen calls it a career

Jason Bell 5 minute read Saturday, Mar. 12, 2022

One of the finest front-end players in curling history is calling it a career.

Dawn McEwen, lead for the perennially successful Jennifer Jones team out of Winnipeg’s St. Vital Club, announced her retirement Saturday.

McEwen spent 15 years throwing first for Jones and won just about everything there is to win on the pebbled ice, capturing Olympic gold in 2014 in Sochi, a pair of world titles (2008, 2018) and five national Scotties crowns.

McEwen said it’s still difficult for her to fathom her long list of accomplishments.

Saturday, Mar. 12, 2022

Kirsten Wall (left), Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer, Kaitlyn Lawes and skip Jennifer Jones brought home the gold from the 2014 Winter Olympics. (Wong Maye-E / The Canadian Press files)

Jets hand Lightning loss with four-goal third period

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Jets hand Lightning loss with four-goal third period

Jason Bell 6 minute read Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2022

The Winnipeg Jets tamed one of the beasts of the east Tuesday night.

Guided by the principles of sound defensive hockey — for two periods — and sparked by a pair of stunning goals from their special teams in the final frame, the Jets dumped the powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning 7-4 in downtown Winnipeg.

Locked up 3-3 after 40 minutes, the Jets finally hit pay dirt on their fourth chance with the man advantage as Pierre-Luc Dubois flipped in a rebound at 7:25. Less than two minutes later, Mikhail Sergachev’s pratfall allowed Kyle Connor to swoop down on a short-handed breakaway and completely bamboozle Lighting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy before calmly sliding in his team-leading 34th.

The first period was wildly entertaining as the clubs kept the goal judges busy. To be sure, interim head coach Dave Lowry preferred the look and feel of the second and third periods, as the Jets held the Lightning to a mere 14 shots the rest of the way.

Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2022

Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Schmidt (88), Neal Pionk (4), Kyle Connor (81) and Dominic Toninato (21) celebrate Connor’s game winning goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in Winnipeg on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade

Scotties participants test positive for COVID-19

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Scotties participants test positive for COVID-19

Jason Bell 3 minute read Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022

Several curlers from the recent Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home — but Manitoba athletes have, to date, avoided getting hit by the virus.

Speculation is swirling competitors from as many as five teams were affected, however, Curling Canada wouldn’t confirm numbers Tuesday.

“Individuals at the event have notified Curling Canada they tested positive after arriving home. Curling Canada cannot confirm the number of cases or the identities for privacy purposes, but can confirm there is more than one team impacted,” the federation said, in a statement. “We have contacted all the athletes, staff and the broadcaster to make them aware and requested they self-monitor for symptoms.”

Curling Canada said it is investigating the situation.

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022

Kerri Einarson says no one from her three-time Scotties championship team is showing symptoms of COVID-19. (Andrew Vaughan / The Canadian Press files)

Manitoba rinks to face each other in must-win game after playoff losses

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Manitoba rinks to face each other in must-win game after playoff losses

Jason Bell 5 minute read Friday, Feb. 4, 2022

Tracy Fleury owned the hammer for seven consecutive ends Friday night. Never a good sign.

The East St. Paul team, still ranked No.1 on the global curling stage, was reduced without warning to a shell of itself at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts national women’s championship in Thunder Bay.

Earning last-rock advantage to start a playoff game against home-town favourite Krista McCarville, Fleury posted a blank in the opening end — a solid start, in retrospect. After that, the squad (with Selena Njegovan at third, Liz Fyfe at second and lead Kristin MacCuish) surrendered steals of two, one, one, two and two over the next five ends before finally scoring a single in the seven for an 8-1 deficit.

Team Wild Card 1, as Fleury’s crew is labelled, stole singles in the eighth and ninth ends before calling it quits, falling 8-3.

Friday, Feb. 4, 2022

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson watches a rock as they play New Brunswick in playoff action at the Scotties on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Zacharias says inexperience not a factor in tiebreaker loss at Scotties

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Zacharias says inexperience not a factor in tiebreaker loss at Scotties

Jason Bell 4 minute read Friday, Feb. 4, 2022

Mackenzie Zacharias is adamant a lack of execution and not inexperience proved to be her team’s undoing at the Canadian women’s curling championship in Thunder Bay.

The Altona team’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts journey came to a halt Friday morning after an 8-6 defeat to veteran Kerry Galusha of Northwest Territories in a morning tie-breaker.

The 22-year-old skip, with third Karlee Burgess, sister and second Emily Zacharias, and lead Lauren Lenentine, gave up a count of three in the second end and two more in the fourth to fall into a 5-1 hole. They narrowed the gap and scored a three of their own in the ninth end but bowed out before Territories fourth player Jo-Ann Rizzo tossed her final rock.

Representing Manitoba, the Zacharias crew was in its second consecutive Scotties. A year ago, the 2020 world junior women’s champion earned a wild-card spot inside the Calgary bubble.

Friday, Feb. 4, 2022

ANDREW VAUGHAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Manitoba skip Mackenzie Zacharias releases a rock as third Karlee Burgess (left) and second Emily Zacharias sweep during play at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at Fort William Gardens in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Selena Njegovan steps in for Fleury, has WC team at 3-1

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Selena Njegovan steps in for Fleury, has WC team at 3-1

Jason Bell 4 minute read Monday, Jan. 31, 2022

Selena Njegovan hasn’t skipped in nearly a decade but has yet to show any signs of stage fright at the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay.

Pressed into the high-pressure role after Tracy Fleury tested positive for COVID-19, Njegovan has guided the East St. Paul squad to a 3-1 record after Day 4 of the Canadian women’s curling championship.

The world’s top-ranked team, carrying the Wild-Card 1 moniker, dropped a squeaker to Andrea Crawford of New Brunswick in the opener Friday night but has been terrific since, posting an 11-9 victory over Emma Miskew of Ottawa (Wild-Card 3) in its most recent test Monday morning.

Njegovan is shooting 76 per cent, fifth among all skips in the Scotties field, expanded to 18 teams for the second year in a row. She was nine percentage points higher than Miskew, who was also promoted from her usual spot at third because Rachel Homan is playing mixed doubles at the Winter Olympics.

Monday, Jan. 31, 2022

Andrew Klaver / Curling Canada
Team Wild Card third Selena Njegovan.

Gunnlaugson opts out of Manitoba playdowns

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Gunnlaugson opts out of Manitoba playdowns

Jason Bell 3 minute read Monday, Jan. 31, 2022

Jason Gunnlaugson has made consecutive Brier appearances but won’t pursue a third.

The veteran skip indicated Sunday he won’t play in the Manitoba men’s curling championship, set to begin in just over a week. On his personal Twitter account, the 37-year-old Winnipegger said he isn’t comfortable competing at the Viterra championship at the Selkirk Curling Club, owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Gunnlaugson,who guides a Morris-based team of third Adam Casey of Charlottetown, P.E.I., second Matt Wozniak and lead Connor Njegovan, said several of his family members and others in his “immediate circle” haven’t been able to receive timely medical treatment during the health crisis. With the current Omicron wave and a surge in hospitalizations in Canada, “I personally cannot reconcile playing non-bubbled and non-tested curling tournaments at his time,” he said.

The comments were in response to emails sent over the weekend by Curl Manitoba to the 28 competing teams. The federation noted it did its due diligence and made the decision to go forward with the event, with the support of Sport Manitoba.

Monday, Jan. 31, 2022

Fleury to sit out start of Scotties

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Fleury to sit out start of Scotties

Jason Bell 1 minute read Friday, Jan. 28, 2022

Tracy Fleury miss the start of the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts after testing positive for COVID-19.

Like all participants, Fleury — who lives in Sudbury, Ont., and skips a Manitoba-based team — was required to test before leaving for Thunder Bay for the national women’s curling championship.

She is self-isolating, but the team indicated on its Facebook page that enough time had passed that Fleury could join the team this weekend.

On its post, the team said: “The good news is she is feeling well…”

Friday, Jan. 28, 2022

Tracy Fleury (Tim Smith/The Brandon Sun files)

Canucks steamroll listless Jets

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Canucks steamroll listless Jets

Jason Bell 7 minute read Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022

The Winnipeg Jets say all the right things but won’t pay heed to their own game plan.

Commit to sound defence. Maintain a structure. Pay attention to details. Don’t cheat the game. Show some confidence. Those were just some of the like-minded messages issued by the local NHL squad — in response to Tuesday’s loosey-goosey effort and eventual defeat to the Florida Panthers — during post-game and day-after chats with reporters.

On Thursday night, the Jets failed to put words into action, suffering a contemptible 5-1 defeat to the Vancouver Canucks before another miniscule crowd of 250, owing to provincial health restrictions.

Capping the crowd was a blessing. Why subject others to such a woeful performance, which extended Winnipeg’s winless streak to six games (0-4-2), the longest of the 2021-22 regular season.

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022

Vancouver Canucks’ Alex Chiasson jumps over Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Schmidt during the first period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Jets playoff hopes hinge on struggling club turning things around as soon as possible

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Jets playoff hopes hinge on struggling club turning things around as soon as possible

Jason Bell 6 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

Nate Schmidt wasn’t at all pleased with the outcome following a visit from a member of the NHL’s ruling class Tuesday night.

A quick check of the Winnipeg Jets’ place in the pecking order didn’t improve his mood.

“I did actually look at the standings… after the game. I usually look at it in 10-15 game intervals to see where you’re at. There’s a logjam there,” Schmidt said, following the club’s noon-hour practice Wednesday at Canada Life Centre.

Indeed, the Jets find themselves locked behind several teams in the chase for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. A 5-3 defeat to the league front-runners, the Florida Panthers, dropped Winnipeg to 17-15-7, five points back of the Dallas Stars who currently occupy the final playoff spot.

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

Fred Greenslade / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Schmidt and Florida Panthers’ Sam Bennett fight for position in front of the Winnipeg net during the first period of the Panthers 5-3 in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Jets return cheered by lucky 250 fans

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Jets return cheered by lucky 250 fans

Jason Bell 3 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

THE Winnipeg Jets received maximum support from just 1.8 per cent of their usual fan base inside Canada Life Centre Tuesday night.

No, the crowd didn’t turn on them.

In truth, only a small fraction of the downtown rink was occupied as the Jets played on home ice for the first time since Dec. 19. Capacity has been capped at 250 for Winnipeg’s two NHL contests this week under current provincial health orders, set to expire Feb. 1.

“It’s like you’re that billionaire who buys out the whole rink for all his friends,” said Rob Ferrand, with a laugh.

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
250 fans were allowed in to cheer on the Winnipeg Jets against the Florida Panthers in Winnipeg Tuesday.