Record: 52 – 20 – 10
Some of his picturesque goals are worth a 1,000 words but Patrik Laine isn't adding "accomplished writer" to his resume.
The Winnipeg Jets' talented forward is featured today as a contributor to the popular online magazine The Players Tribune. The site publishes stories from the world of athletics, showcased as first-person accounts from competitors or, sometimes, their family members.
In the piece, titled Winnipeg is Good, the 19-year-old from Tampere, Finland, talks up the Manitoba capital as a terrific hockey town, gives a shout-out to the best fans in the NHL, pumps up Jets captain Blake Wheeler as one of the league's unheralded superstars, defends his oft-criticized growth of facial hair, expresses appreciation to his mom for helping him out in Winnipeg and fires a few barbs at his PlayStation buddy, Nikolaj Ehlers.
Laine was interviewed for the article but he didn't actually write it. The Tribune makes clear the stories are told in the subject's own words.
The towering young winger hadn't even read it as of this morning, he said following the club's morning skate at Bell MTS Place. The injury-ravaged Jets (31-13-9) are preparing to battle the NHL's worst team, the Arizona Coyotes (12-31-9), tonight. Game time is 7 p.m.
It's Winnipeg's fourth of 10 straight on home ice. The team hasn't lost in regulation in eight games, going back to a 4-1 defeat to the Wild in St. Paul, Minn., Jan. 13, right before the club's NHL-mandated five-day break.
The Jets are coming off a 3-0 shutout of the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. Goalie Connor Hellebuyck stopped 25 shots, and he's back guarding the crease tonight.
Asked this morning how the Tribune assignment came about, Laine seemed a bit flustered.
"That's a good question. I don't know. I did an interview one day here at the rink and that's pretty much it. That's how much I know," he said, confirming he did not put pen to paper. "No, no, no... only thing I do that is when I'm signing autographs. Nothing else.
"(Haven't read it) so have no idea what's inside it."
The article does prove the affable Finn talks a good game.
Laine scoffed at the suggest he would publicly malign Ehlers.
"I don't believe that. I would never do that to my friend, so I don't believe you guys," he said, grinning.
In the story, the second-year Jet, who leads the team with 24 goals in 53 contests this season, admits he's fallen in love with his new home.
"I mean, I heard some guys talking bad about the city and that Winnipeg was not a good place. What do they know? I love Winnipeg. This is my home. These are my people now. I play for them. It’s a great, great city. Everyone who lives here really cares about one another, that’s what stands out to me. We are one group, all of us. Everybody is your neighbour," he told the Tribune.
That was all from the heart, he said Tuesday.
"It's hockey. That's what I'm here to do. And hockey is just awesome here," Laine said. "The fans here are, in my opinion, the best in the league. And all the other stuff is related to hockey is great.
"It just feels like home here."
Laine and Ehlers, who turns 22 next week, are pretty much joined at the hip off the ice. The two room together on the road and pretty much spend all their time trying to destroy each other on the video game Call of Duty.
"I think I would probably hear about that for the rest of my life. But it's my job to make sure that never happens," Laine said.
The Jets will have AHL callups centre Nic Petan and winger Brendan Lemieux in the lineup tonight, and they'll play on a fourth line with Marko Dano.
Mark Scheifele will miss his 16th straight game with an upper-body injury, but should be ready to return Friday when the St. Louis Blues visit.
Sidelined with injuries are forwards Matt Hendricks (upper body), Brandon Tanev (upper body), Shawn Matthias (upper body), Adam Lowry (upper body), defenceman Jacob Trouba (lower body) and goalie Steve Mason (suspected concussion).
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Updated on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 2:31 PM CST: Updates