They're assembled, all 65 of them, and their blades hit the ice today for Winnipeg's first NHL training camp since 1995.

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This article was published 16/9/2011 (3942 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They're assembled, all 65 of them, and their blades hit the ice today for Winnipeg's first NHL training camp since 1995.

The Jets hopefuls and regulars alike, reborn out of the relocated Atlanta Thrashers, will be divided into three groups for separate workouts today at the MTS Iceplex starting at 9 a.m.

The smart money says Big Buff wasn't wearing that bling when he tipped the scales at a svelte 266 pounds on Friday.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The smart money says Big Buff wasn't wearing that bling when he tipped the scales at a svelte 266 pounds on Friday.

"The fact that Winnipeg's got a new team that they haven't had in 15 years is certainly a lot of focus on this group here," Jets head coach Claude Noel said Friday.

"You're pretty much setting the footprint and the pace for your whole organization."

Noel said he planned to address the entire group sometime Friday night, after all players had gone through medicals and fitness testing.

The coach said he didn't have any results in either of those departments, though a team spokesman later confirmed that one of the hottest player topics -- what does defenceman Dustin Byfuglien weigh? -- wasn't much for fodder, that he tipped the scales Friday at 266 pounds, three less than his playing weight listed in last season's Atlanta media guide.

Testing and medical day was simply a required activity and didn't generate a whole lot of excitement, captain Andrew Ladd said.

"I don't know if anybody's real excited about assessment day but it's over now," Ladd said. "I'm looking forward to getting on the ice and getting things going."

The mission for the new Jets will be to gain altitude on the 80 points in 82 games posted by the Thrashers last season.

"If you're going to get in the playoffs in the NHL, you're going to have to be fairly consistent," Noel said. "If you're going to go from 80 points to 96 points, how are you going to make up those 16 points potentially, if that gets you in there?

"Consistency is going to be one of (the reasons). If you hit a bump, how big's the bump?"

Byfuglien, one of the team's impact players, wasn't making wild promises about the team on the ice but predicted improvement.

"We have a bunch of young guys coming in again," the monster defenceman said. "We're going to be all right. We're going to be a hard-working team that's going to be fun to watch.

"There will be lots of ups and downs -- that's the way a hockey team goes. I think that from what we went through last year, guys that are coming back, it only can get better."

The Jets have seven pre-season games starting Tuesday and open their regular-season Oct. 9 at the MTS Centre against the Montreal Canadiens.

As those contests and milestones come up, Noel said he's got one thing in mind -- to get a "handle on his players."

He called it his biggest task and added, "How do they respond to my type of coaching and how do they respond to playing in Canada?"

He will begin uncovering the answers not simply by observation.

"No, I won't be a spectator," Noel said. "That'll be the farthest thing from what I'll be.

"Anything you do when you try to build a relationship, you have to invest in each player. You have to invest in your team. I have to make an investment and take the time to get to know these players. It's on the ice and off the ice.

"It's something I've always done. I think it's one of my strengths."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca