May 31, 2020

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Dump & Chase

Laced up and ready to hit the ice

As you can plainly see, we’re back after missing last week’s installment of Dump & Chase. No, the respite was not due to doctor’s orders. Everything’s fine, really, but thanks for asking. For caring.

The simple truth is Mike (alias Dump) was in the midst of the Jets’ four-game road trip, which made for some long, dizzying days and all-too-brief nights, with long security lines and delayed flights during the days before, during and after U.S. Thanksgiving. The guy filed three stories a day, while tweeting his tail off, so kudos to the big guy.

Jay (alias Chase), meanwhile, had a hectic week filling in for Freep sports editor Steve Lyons and was chained to a desk, painstakingly editing all the rough copy of sleepy-eyed Mike. Frankly, if you enjoyed anything written from Vancouver, Calgary, St. Paul, Minn., or St. Louis, credit the acting bossman for some expert polishing of Mike’s prose. That’s our brand of teamwork, folks.

Lost in the shuffle, however, was this online column. We assure you the decision to go without was not taken lightly. A lengthy but carefully worded text from Jay suggesting the benefits of a one-week reprieve was quickly met with a seven-letter reply. “Slacker.”

Hurtful, indeed.

But we’re past all that ugliness and have forged an even stronger alliance to bring you some quality hockey information and entertainment. Enjoy. (And if you find any typos, Mike edited this one.)

Pre-game warmup

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Yet there were the Winnipeg Jets the other night, throwing a major curveball prior to taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They changed their warm-up music.

Is it any wonder, then, that the team which had been so dominant in their own barn went out and lost 4-3? Coincidence? We think not.

Here, then, are the new tunes the Jets players got their blood pumping to.

1) HOODY HOOO by Tru

2) FLASHLIGHT by R3hab & Deorro

3) WORKIN ME by Quavo

4) UPROAR by Lil Wayne

5) DROP THAT LOW (WHEN I DIP) by Tujamo

6) BALL FOR ME by Post Malone and Nicki Minaj

7) SICKO MODE by Travis Scott

8) LULLABY by Sigala & Paloma Faith

First period

Sing it with us: It's the mooooooost wonderful time...of the yearrrrrrrrrr.

We're talking (or singing), of course, about outdoor hockey rink construction time. With the temperatures now firmly below freezing for the foreseeable future, visions of perfect backyard ice are currently dancing in the heads of many hockey fans.

Our good buddy, Paul Edmonds, got right to work Tuesday night after finishing up his radio call of the Jets-Penguins game.

But when it comes to making a great rink, there's no one better at it than Mother Nature.

This one is pretty sweet as well, as a Swedish Hockey League team discovered earlier this week.

We'd love to see your finished product, which we'll feature in an upcoming edition of Dump & Chase. Just shoot us an email at one or both of the address below with a picture of your backyard rink.

Let's hope there's plenty of smooth skating ahead!


Jets head coach Paul Maurice is serious about hockey, and that business-like approach is evident when he’s running practice, pacing behind the bench during games or providing a thoughtful answer during his press conferences.

But there’s also a whimsical side to the man — he’s funny, self-deprecating and quick with painless sarcasm — and that makes life entertaining for the local media contingent. He’s also a devoted family man, and the husband and dad in him come out publicly infrequently but with genuine tenderness.

This past week, we saw all of the above.

Last weekend, an ESPN story on the scoring escapades of Jets winger Patrik Laine referred to Winnipeg’s bench boss as Maurice Richard, as in the legendary Montreal Canadiens scorer. The major blunder made for terrific Twitter fodder, however, it seems Maurice doesn’t spend any time on social media and no one in the organization let him in on the joke.

On Monday, Sun columnist Paul Friesen was asked how many times he’d been called The Rocket — Richard’s nickname — the past few days. Maurice’s replied: "I don’t get that one. Are we talking about at home or here?"

It was tough for coach to keep his composure after that line, and he started blushing at the podium. Wonder if Mrs. Maurice was laughing as hard as the press corps?

Then on Tuesday, hours before the Jets were set to collide with the Penguins at Bell MTS Place, Jay asked Maurice if he had a favourite "Sid" story knowing the Pittsburgh star and watching him play. His answer was unexpectedly heartwarming.

Second period

It was a simple enough question: If True North were to construct three statues outside Bell MTS Place, which players would you want to see bronzed.

Mike posed it last week as a four-game road trip made its final stop in St. Louis, where Brett Hull, Bernie Federko and Al MacInnis are forever immortalized outside Enterprise Center.

An avalanche of responses quickly followed. And while many contained the names you might expect -- from Hawerchuk and Selanne to Hull, Hedberg and Nilsson, there were a handful of curious replies as well.

Such as...

 

You know, we're starting to think maybe some of you didn't take this question as seriously as others!


 Mike also has his annual white-knuckle moment while having to navigate the notorious catwalk in Calgary's aging Saddledome.

He managed to shoot some video as he made his way across the ice surface, high above the jumbotron. Warning: This isn't for the faint of heart.


The Calgary trip was memorable for a couple other reasons as well, although Jets fans may wish to forget the game entirely considering the Jets spotted the home team five-goals in a dreadful first period.

Bill Peters is one of the more colourful coaches in the game, and he had Mike and the other media members in stitches while holding court before the game and talking about the fragile coaching fraternity.

Edmonton and St. Louis had just sacked their bench bosses, coming on the heels of similar moves by Los Angeles and Chicago.

"That's why we don't buy the green bananas," Peters cracked.

A few nights later, Peters had a couple more good zingers as he met the media after taking a puck to the face and requiring eight stitches.


Final thought about Cowtown.

Travis Hamonic is one of the true good guys in the game, and Mike had a chance to spend a few quality minutes with the Manitoban last week.

In case you missed it, Hamonic and his wife have launched their third charity, this time aimed at helping low-income single parents. It's a tremendous cause, especially when you consider Hamonic's own upbringing.

Here's another look at Mike's feature on a player who is very easy to root for, especially off the ice.

Third period

What's left to say about Gritty that hasn't already been said?

A lot!

We absolutely love the guy and think the Philadelphia Flyers mascot is one of the best things to come along in the NHL in ages. And Dump & Chase!

And we will never, ever apologize for our fandom.

Which is why we fully support his bid to be named Time's Person of the Year.

And the way he deals with a between-periods game featuring several young players.

And the fact he crashed a wedding on Black Friday.

Keep being you, Gritty!


There's no doubt Friendly Manitoba and Minnesota Nice can get a little ornery with each other when their respective hockey teams face-off.

And that was certainly the case Friday during a spirited affair in St. Paul, which featured a bit of a kerfuffle (or was it a brouhaha?) inside the Jets bench.

A local photographer captured all the chaos with this incredible picture, which is pretty much a work of art.

As one keen-eyed observer pointed out, the best part might be the ad for the personal injury lawyer appearing on the electronic ring in the background.


Speaking of violence during hockey games at NHL arenas...

Overtime

This guy looks like a left-handed Patrik Laine.

In fact, it’s Jets 2017 first-round pick Kristian Vesalainen, who scored the first goal of his Kontinental Hockey League career in his debut Wednesday for Jokerit, the team based in Helsinki, his home town. Jokerit earned a 4-1 victory over host Dinamo Minsk.

You gotta think this is the first of many this year for the talented 19-year-old forward.

His new teammates clearly appreciated his strong debut, honouring him with some kind of court jester hat.

It’s cool but it ain’t no Top Gun helmet like the one ex-Jet Devin Setoguchi got to wear in 2014. Haven’t seen the aviator lid in a while in the Jets dressing room, though.

Winnipeg assigned Vesalainen to the KHL team last Thursday. He started the season with the Jets, registering an assist in his NHL debut in the season opener, but went scoreless in his next four games and was reassigned to the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League. He posted three goals and five assists in eight games with the Moose.

Vesalainen has a clause in his contract allowing him to return to Finland if he wasn’t playing in the NHL, and that’s ultimately what occurred.

He’ll stay overseas for the balance of the KHL season but is eligible to return after it's done.


A reminder that crime doesn't pay, and the Free Press isn't really free!


Could be the next big social media challenge to go viral?

The Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League released an impressive video this week of players literally using their heads while showing off some impressive skills in their dressing room.

Shootout

The Carolina Hurricanes don't care for your scorn. Yes, they're looking directly at you, Brian Burke.

No, old-school types likely don't get a big kick out of their post-game celebration every time they pick up two points on home ice.

But so what? Who cares? Players and fans are clearly enjoying it, and that's really all that matters, especially when trying to sell tickets in a non-traditional market.

This one from the other night is our favourite so far.


Joel Quenneville likely has no shortage of suitors for his services. But it appears the exiled Chicago Blackhawks bench boss is in no hurry to get back to an NHL job.

And who can blame him, given that he seems to be rather enjoying his time away from the rink.


 

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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