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This article was published 26/8/2015 (2295 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The competition for jobs is a far higher priority than worrying about complacency or unfounded satisfaction, Winnipeg Jets forward Chris Thorburn said Wednesday.
The veteran right-winger expressed that opinion shortly before he, captain Andrew Ladd, Alex Burmistrov and Nikolaj Ehlers began play in the annual golf fundraiser for Special Olympics at Glendale Golf and Country Club.
Thorburn, who with Toby Enstrom appears likely to assume the designation this fall as the organization’s longest-serving on-ice members — was responding to Ladd’s reaction last week that it was folly to think the Jets would somehow become overconfident after qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs last April.
"Not with the guys we have in the locker room," said the 32-year-old native of Sault. Ste. Marie, Ont. "Myself personally, I’ve made the playoffs once in 10 years. It’s an embarrassing stat and something I crave and we as a team crave, to get there every year.
"This year it’s not different from last year at camp. We’re starting from scratch and it might be a little bit easier as far as knowing the systems. That could be a little bit smoother transition. But to get to the playoffs is a goal every year and it’s something we don’t take lightly because we know how hard it is to get there."
Thorburn said he’s tuned into the chatter about elevated expectations for the 2015-16 NHL season, which starts Oct. 8.
"Obviously we got a taste of the playoff atmosphere and some playoff hockey and that’s what we want to strive to get to every year," he said. "But that’s a process that starts from training camp. Obviously there’s talk about there being some spots open, that there will be some fighting for jobs, so that’s a good atmosphere to come into, to be competitive right off the start and hopefully that creates a great environment after camp and going forward."
The rugged forward is back in Winnipeg getting ready for training camp’s start Sept. 17, but has spent much of his summer back home.
"We’re still working on our house back home (Midland, Mich.) so we’re in the process of getting that done," he said of the new-house project that has been going on for three years. "It’s in a good spot now.
"Then we bought a tractor and we’ve been doing some field work. We have 15 acres so we’ve been trying to smooth it out and plant it and make it nice."
Burmistrov, who signed a new deal with the Jets on July 1 to return from a two-year stint in the KHL, showed up at Wednesday’s tournament in a new role — golf geek.
He decided to stay in Winnipeg for the rest of the summer after he signed — though he took a side trip to Toronto last week — and has taken up the game.
"I just started playing in July," Burmistrov said. "I joined Niakwa. So I’m playing there and there are lots of nice people there. I’m with a group playing there all the time. They’re nice guys, they give me some tips, and so far so good."
As a new golfer, Burmistrov said he’s making progress.
"I think so. I hope so," he laughed. "I’m like 100 right now, that’s what I’m shooting, but I have an eagle already (on the 11th hole)."
Burmistrov could be picking up the game quickly — he nearly aced Glendale’s 16th hole Wednesday.
"(Golf) is fun," he said. "There’s not much to do in the summer, so it’s good to spend time outdoors rather than sit home and watching TV. You’re walking and playing and it’s fun. I like it. I like it so far.
"I had a couple of lessons, too. I don’t want to be bad."
Ehlers, who claimed Wednesday to just be a part-time, summer golfer, is also back in Winnipeg full-time now, having arrived about 10 days ago.
"I thought it would be nice to get back here and get started. I’m excited to be here," the 19-year-old first-round draft pick of 2014 said. "It’s nice to be able to be out here and support everything."
In the off-season, he spent some time at home in Denmark, sandwiched in between a couple of training stints in Switzerland, where his father coaches.
Ehlers has come back to Winnipeg with a singular focus, he said.
"Of course I want to make the team this year. I’ve got nothing else in my head," he said. "I’m just excited to be here and ready to get started.
"There are a lot of good players here, of course. I’ve got to fight harder than the other guys and they all want to make the team as well, so it’s going to be tough for every single player here. But I’m going to give everything I have because I want to play."