A day to sit back, take a deep breath, and get ready for the rest of the season is how most players reacted to Monday's day off. Many were still in awe over the reaction to Sunday's game and the return of the NHL to Winnipeg.
"The non-stop cheering was really difficult to get used to" said Chris Thorburn, who has played over 350 games in the NHL. "Sunday was something I have never experienced before. What an atmosphere."
As the team gets ready to depart for a two-game road trip, the players feel the timing is right. By the time they take to the ice in Chicago Thursday (TSN National, TSN 1290) it will have been one game in 12 days. That is a lot of practice, practice and more practice.
Head coach Claude Noel at one point today stopped practice and let loose on his players. Let's just say the language was strong and leave the rest to your imagination. "We need to be sharper at practice. Really focus," commented captain Andrew Ladd after the 75-minute workout ended. As for Coach Noel - "I reacted that way because of them. There are reasons why you win and lose hockey games. After a day off you need to re-engage the mind, so my barking was a wake-up. It was the same mistakes in practice that lead to mistakes in the game. We have to change that."
Coach felt they lost battles Sunday, too many turnovers, and as a team not enough people were crashing the net. "That part of the game was poor, we need to be better."
As expected early in a season there was some line juggling. Evander Kane was on a line with Alexander Burmistrov and Nik Antropov. Kane says both are good players. "We played together last year at the end of the season. Alex has great hands, Nik sees the ice so well and is quicker than most people think." Kane was the center of attention today after playing only 10:34 Sunday. The organizational expectations for Kane are huge. "I wanted a little bit more from him Sunday," was the comment from Coach Noel. "But he wasn't alone. Now as coaches we watch to see what the reaction to not being in a regular rotation will be. He's an important guy for us."
LADD RETURNS TO CHICAGO - Captain Andrew Ladd will play his first game in Chicago since being a huge part of the Hawks Cup-winning team, same for Dustin Byfuglien. Both were traded to Atlanta the following off-season and the Thrashers did not play in Chicago last season. Ladd spoke about the return. "I'm excited to get back there. Lots of great memories and will be great to see the banner." It was Ladd's second Cup win after winning it his rookie season in the NHL with Carolina.
MASON NOT AT PRACTICE - The birth of a little girl kept him away from the rink. Congrats to he and wife Courtney. Everyone is doing well.
BIG DAY - With Mason not at practice it was a great day for Joe Caligiuri of the University of Manitoba Bisons as he filled in. Joe's sister Christina is part of the Jets communications department.
Ben Maxwell took part in his first practice since being banged up during the pre-season.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was also part of the Hawks Cup-winning team.