December 6, 2019

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Miettinen's been all over the map lately

Finn hopes to stick with Jets for awhile

HIS last season ended in Minnesota and the next chapter took him to Russia, then back home to Finland, tentatively to Tampa and, ultimately, to Winnipeg.

So excuse Antti Miettinen if he needs to shake off the jet lag and stop his head from spinning before making his debut with his new team.

Allen McInnis / POSTMEDIA NEWS ARCHIVES
Antti Miettinen potted 16 goals with Minny last season.

CNS MONTREAL GAZETTE

Allen McInnis / POSTMEDIA NEWS ARCHIVES Antti Miettinen potted 16 goals with Minny last season.

"I feel like I've been travelling the whole week," said Miettinen after his first practice with his Jet teammates on Friday. "It's a pretty long flight and we had to overnight because we missed our connection. Things change quick. Sometimes that's life, but hopefully we can settle in here now and get our normal life going."

Acquired on waivers earlier this week after first being signed by the Lightning, the 31-year-old Finn may suit up against the Anaheim Ducks tonight, although head coach Claude Noel dropped the usual "game-time decision" when asked if the newcomer — along with Nik Antropov, Toby Enstrom and Alex Burmistrov — would be good to go.

As for Miettinen, his arrival caps what has been a whirlwind week. After leaving his team in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, he signed a new contract with the Lightning, only to have the Jets grab his rights. Miettinen had 16 goals and 19 assists with the Minnesota Wild last season and has appeared in 472 games with Minny and the Dallas Stars.

He signed with Kazan Ak-Bars in the KHL this summer and had two goals and six assists in 20 games before leaving the team.

"It was just a matter of our family not really being comfortable there," Miettinen explained. "It was pretty tough for my wife and myself to have normal things rolling, and so we decided to do this and here we are.

"It took a long time to make the move (to the KHL) because it was a huge, not just for me and my career but also for our family. My wife was pregnant with our other kid... there were a lot of things involved. It was for personal reasons we went there and personal reasons we came back here. We're happy here. You look back and think it might have been the wrong decision for all of us, but it's in the past and we've got to look to the future."

Miettenen, interestingly, grew up watching more Jets games than any other NHL team's because of Teemu Selanne's presence. And how's this: Selanne, Miettinen and former Jet Teppo Numminen all share the same birthday — July 3.

"There's a lot of funny things that go on in life and this is one of them," Miettinen said. "I feel actually really good to be here."

Of all the players looking to exit sick bay, Enstrom might be the most anxious. He's missed 20 games with a shoulder injury after taking a hit from Florida's Jack Skille on Halloween night.

"It's going to be the coach's decision whether I play or not," said Enstrom. "But I'm cleared to play and it feels good."

The Jets will be wearing their white jerseys for tonight's game as the Ducks' organization asked if they could don their third jerseys.

Winnipeg made one roster adjustment on Friday, reassigning Carl Klingberg to St. John's.

— with files from Tim Campbell

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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