Hometown boy eager to make good

D-man Meech's Oct. 9 dream survives cut day


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It doesn't end here, it doesn't start here. But Derek Meech knows very well the next chapter of his pro hockey story is about to be written.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/09/2011 (4202 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It doesn’t end here, it doesn’t start here. But Derek Meech knows very well the next chapter of his pro hockey story is about to be written.

Meech, the 27-year-old Winnipegger who signed this summer as a free agent after spending nine years as part of the Detroit Red Wings organization, would like nothing more than to skate out in front of the home crowd on Oct. 9 as a regular Jets defenceman.

That dream is still alive after the Jets sliced their roster by 20 on Tuesday, but Meech is now in a fight with 10 other defencemen for one of six starting spots or, at the very least, the seventh rearguard who will be kept around.

Asked if he felt relief at not seeing his name among those sent to St. John’s on the white board in the Jets dressing room, he gave a hint as to the height of the bar he’s set for himself.

“My expectations are a little higher,” he said. “I expect to gut it out until the end of the exhibition season… so I’m relieved I’m still here, but I’m not satisfied, that’s for sure.

“So far, I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well. Obviously the goal is to get better every day, and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

Meech has been steady defensively through the pre-season and showing an eagerness to step up to chip in offensively. There’s not a whole lot of flash to his game, but he is consistent and reliable. But with the Jets’ top-six crew — Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Mark Stuart, Ron Hainsey and Johnny Oduya — seemingly intact from last year and prospects Paul Postma and Brett Festerling impressing along with veteran free-agent signee Randy Jones, there’s not a lot of room on the depth chart.

“It’s all about consistency,” Meech said. “It’s going to be a real challenge (today) coming off the road after a long trip to Nashville, then to St. John’s and back to here. It’s a body thing, but also a mental thing. You’ve got to make sure you’re sharp and battle through that travel and the aches and pains you may be feeling.

“What I’ve been focusing on here is making sure I’m doing enough but not overly pushing things… just settling in and trying to be smooth while making the right plays.”

Meech will be in the lineup today against the Carolina Hurricanes. And after that… no one is sure. When it was suggested he might have just a game or two to make his hometown team, Meech grinned.

“No pressure,” he said. “It’s a pretty cool feeling, actually. A lot of people say that’s an awful lot of pressure, but I look at it as more of a challenge. This is the nature of the game. There’s a ton of talented hockey players in this league. You’ve got to be prepared and you’ve got to be consistent.”

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

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