September 21, 2018

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Dump & Chase

The back-to-business edition

We’re back!

Just like the Winnipeg Jets, Dump & Chase had an abbreviated off-season — and what a fine summer it was.

After documenting the Jets' exploits during a remarkable 2017-18 NHL season — from the weeks preceding training camp to the team's disappointing defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final — we got to enjoy some well-earned time off.

Mike (a.k.a. Dump) spent three weeks in June at a yoga camp near Eau Claire, Wis., and then puttered in his pristine veggie and herb garden most of July. Let’s cross our fingers his kids have the cukes washed and ready for pickling Saturday. That’s a big day in the McIntyre household!

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We’re back!

Just like the Winnipeg Jets, Dump & Chase had an abbreviated off-season — and what a fine summer it was.

After documenting the Jets' exploits during a remarkable 2017-18 NHL season — from the weeks preceding training camp to the team's disappointing defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final — we got to enjoy some well-earned time off.

Mike (a.k.a. Dump) spent three weeks in June at a yoga camp near Eau Claire, Wis., and then puttered in his pristine veggie and herb garden most of July. Let’s cross our fingers his kids have the cukes washed and ready for pickling Saturday. That’s a big day in the McIntyre household!

Jay (a.k.a. Chase) surprised his wife with a two-week June vacation to Seattle, "the pesto of cities," then returned home to continue developing his screenplay, a romantic comedy based on the two years he spent selling mattresses in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. The working title is: Don’t Coil Us, We’ll Coil You. Jay can’t say too much at this point, just that talks have started with a former The Young and the Restless actor (who shall remain nameless) to play the lead, while shooting locations are already being scouted near Dryden.

Refreshed, the boys are pumped to begin another season of Jets coverage while offering up weekly digital slices of hockey life.

Winnipeg’s NHL squad is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, and you can be sure that from Bell MTS Place to Boston, San Jose to St. Louis and Finland to Florida, we’ll be there every step of the way to document what should be a compelling journey that officially begins Friday with the start of training camp.

We’ll also monitor the strange, entertaining and poignant happenings from the rest of the hockey world.

We invite you now to enjoy the first instalment of Year 2 of our fun little online project.

PRE-GAME WARMUP

To get ready for the new campaign, Mike and Jay have been brushing up on their skills and studying plenty of film with the hopes of learning some new moves.

Mike has been working on adding some physicality to his game.

 

Jay is trying to add a bit more finesse and figures he'll soon be able to pull this off.

 


While things haven’t exactly gone well for Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterbacks lately, the CFL club wasn’t auditioning new pivots at Investors Group Field the other day.

It was just a few Jets chucking the pigskin around.

Nikolaj Ehlers, Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp were down at field level Saturday for the Banjo Bowl.

Either before or after Saskatchewan's 32-27 victory over Winnipeg, the trio tossed some long balls and it was Copp, a checking winger with the NHL club, who flashed the strongest, most accurate arm.

And for good reason. The 24-year-old from Ann Arbor, Mich., was a star quarterback for Skyline High School and even had NCAA Division I schools interested during his senior year (2011-12). After just six games that season, he’d tossed 27 touchdown passes and thrown for more than 1,700 yards. But in the seventh game, he took a punishing hit and broke his collarbone, ending his football career that very day.

The following school year he was enrolled at the University of Michigan, suiting up for the Wolverines hockey squad. Winnipeg picked him in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Three years ago at Jets training camp, head coach Paul Maurice was asked if he knew much about Copp’s proficiency in the pocket.

"I watched (Copp’s high school football highlight reel) yesterday," he said, in early October 2015. "Have you seen it? Google it. It’s unbelievable. I mean, seriously, if we ever have a flag football game we’re drafting him first overall. It’s not even close. Google his name... I don’t know if it’s YouTube or what it is, but there’s video of him and some statistics... he threw for 494 yards in one game, fourth-most in Michigan state high school history. It’s something. The first half (of the video) he’s just throwing bombs down the field and then there’s him running for touchdowns. It’s also probably why he’s not afraid to go into the corners... he’s probably been in some tougher areas."

1ST PERIOD

Mark Scheifele can add acting to his "what I did on my summer vacation" list.

The Jets centre was, indeed, the centre of attention in a commercial for Warrior hockey sticks, and a pair of other NHL stars — Boston forward Brad Marchand and Minnesota blue-liner Ryan Suter — also had roles. 

YouTube’s got a pretty comical, full-length "director’s cut" of the hijinks. In it, No. 55 weaves some magic with his new composite twig, while the other two sneak around the rink trying to figure out what the heck the Winnipeg alternate captain is wielding.

Scheifele gets two very enthusiastic thumbs up from Mike and Jay. Can a lead role in a remake of Slapshot be far behind for the fledgling thespian from Kitchener?

 


Scheifele's other recent off-ice accomplishments include appearing in the pages of GQ about his impressive dedication to fitness, which earned him some good-natured chirps from a pair of teammates.

 

 

 

Then there was his appearance in The Players Cup golf tournament last month, where he fired rounds of 87 and 86 while playing as a sponsor's exemption.

Finally, he showed off his, er, dance moves last week during an NHL media tour in Chicago.

2ND PERIOD

One of the newest members of the Winnipeg Jets organization has a connection to a popular American reality TV show.

Nic Kerdiles, acquired earlier this summer in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks (the Jets sent Manitoba Moose forward Chase De Leo the other way), is dating Savannah Chrisley, according to published reports and their own social media accounts.

She is part of a show called Chrisley Knows Best, which focuses on her family and has been on the air for six seasons so far on the USA Network. It centres largely around her somewhat eccentric father, a wealthy real-estate mogul. 

She's also got quite the social media presence, with 1.7 million Instagram followers at last check.

We've never seen it, but Tom Gliatto of People said, "This is the best family reality series since Honey Boo Boo or even The Osbournes from several eons ago."

That's high praise. We think.

 


Mike spent a few days down in Minnesota recently, checking out a summer hockey league involving a few dozen NHL, AHL, ECHL and college players.

"Da Beauty League" has really taken off in the three years since being formed and is a fun way to help keep players in game shape during the off-season. You can read all about it here.

During the visit, Mike also caught up with former Jets forward Drew Stafford, who just signed a pro tryout to attend New Jersey Devils training camp in an effort to keep his NHL career going.

Stafford, 32, was part of the huge deal that sent Evander Kane shuffling off to Buffalo, and and spoke highly of the 2-1/2 years he spent in the 'Peg. He was especially happy to see so many of his former teammates enjoy success last season and make it to the Western Conference final.

"I knew they had it in them. It's the same team. Helly played out of his mind. I knew that he was a world-class goalie. It was just a matter of time before he got his groove. He set the bar pretty high now. He's a Vezina goalie. If that stays true, they've always had the offence. Patty (Laine) is gonna score his goals. On the back end, getting a guy like Mysey (Tyler Myers) back, a full year, that's a huge add, like adding another player through free agency. Then you got young guys like Mo (Josh Morrissey) coming up, he's coming into his stride. That's about as balanced a lineup as you get. When you got a guy like Toby Enstrom who's kinda getting pushed out, you know you got pretty good depth. I always knew they had it. There's a lot of really good people up there. The coaching staff, training staff, fans up there. I can't even imagine how crazy it was," Stafford said of the deep playoff run.

"You know what, they deserve it. They put in the work. Around the league, around everywhere else they kind of get laughed at a little bit, get overlooked. So now it's like here we are, we're a force. It just shows the parity of the league. Everyone's good... Central division. When I got traded there from Buffalo, we were in some dire straits in Buffalo and I was lucky enough to get out of there at a good time. And I joined the Jets on the run there to get into the playoffs (in the spring of 2015). I'll never forget that experience."

3RD PERIOD

Mike, Jay and the entire Free Press sports staff offer their condolences to the family of Ab McDonald, the first captain in Winnipeg Jets history, who died Sept. 4 at the age of 82.

McDonald played parts of 14 seasons in the NHL, winning four straight Stanley Cups from 1958-1961 — three with the Montreal Canadiens and one with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Winnipegger finished his pro career with his hometown Jets of the World Hockey Association, wearing the C on his jersey for the inaugural 1972-73 season. He also scored the franchise’s first-ever goal.

McDonald was, in every sense, Winnipeg hockey royalty.

Joe Daley, the former goaltender and Jets legend, called McDonald his "dear, dear friend." The two first played together in four different organizations. 

"Our relationship was long, and it was a pleasure for me, that's for sure," Daley told Free Press reporter Ashley Prest. "He was a wonderful man, supportive, and loved being a contributor to us young guys in regards to trying to teach us the way. What I really liked about him was that he never tried to put himself ahead of you or anybody else. With him, it was, 'I'm here, I'm part of the group and here's what we have to do to try to win.' He had such a fun-loving nature. He loved to have fun with us."

About 1,200 people attended a memorial service for McDonald on Tuesday. Prest was in attendance and penned this poignant story.

McDonald is a member of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Pat, had been married for 60 years. They have three daughters and two sons.

Expect the Jets to do something formal early in this new season to pay tribute to McDonald.

OVERTIME

As you may have noticed, we're big fans of tomfoolery around here. So a tip of the cap to Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for pulling off a quality prank on a couple former Penguins teammates this summer.

A bit closer to home, we couldn't help but laugh as Jets legend Teemu Selanne recently got the best of Winnipegger Jamie McCreedy by throwing a perfect strike at a dunk tank. 

McCreedy — a local real estate agent and Mike's former childhood classmate and minor hockey teammate — got to spend some time with Selanne recently during a visit to southern California.

•••

Our first Tweet of the Week of the new season goes to one of our favourites, @strombone — a.k.a. Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo. He had this beauty earlier this summer while visiting his hometown of Montreal.

Never change, Bobby Lou.

SHOOTOUT

Once a month, we'll roll out our updated NHL power rankings. We cast separate votes ranking teams 1 through 31, then add up the totals and average them out for the final list. 

This is how we see things shaping up before the puck drops on the regular season (with the total score of our combined ranking in brackets). 

T1. Tampa Bay Lightning (3)

T1. Nashville Predators (3)

3. Winnipeg Jets (7)

4. Washington Capitals (8)

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (9)

6. Vegas Golden Knights (12)

7. Boston Bruins (15)

8. Pittsburgh Penguins (16)

9. St. Louis Blues (19)

10. San Jose Sharks (20)

11. Philadelphia Flyers (23)

12. Dallas Stars (25)

13. Los Angeles Kings (26)

14. Columbus Blue Jackets (30)

15. New Jersey Devils (31)

T16. Colorado Avalanche (33)

T16. Calgary Flames (33)

18. New York Rangers (37)

T19. Florida Panthers (39)

T19. Edmonton Oilers (39)

21. Minnesota Wild (41)

22. Anaheim Ducks (43)

23. Arizona Coyotes (44)

24. Buffalo Sabres (45)

T25. Chicago Blackhawks (52)

T25. Carolina Hurricanes (52)

T25. New York Islanders (52)

28. Detroit Red Wings (55)

29. Montreal Canadiens (59)

30. Vancouver Canucks (59)

31. Ottawa Senators (62)

***

Got a suggestion for a future edition of Dump & Chase? Let us know about it. 

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca and jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca.

And: follow "Dump" and "Chase" — a.k.a. Mike and Jason — on Twitter. Mike is @mikemcintyrewpg, while Jason can be found @WFPJasonBell.

Your weekly trip around the world of hockey.

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