That Magical Blue Can

When I’m feeling unmotivated, uninspired or just all around bored, I usually head to the fridge and pull out a magical blue can of positivity. Any beer drinker worth their tuition will surely know Brewhouse! If not, then get out to your local vendor and pick up a pack…now.

It usually helps me get over the ridge – the one that tells me I can’t start a post that way, or that I’m writing an article, not a short story, so dumb it down on the flowery prose – and just start writing.

I know that deep in the bowels of the marketing department at Great Western Brewery there is a shot down ad campaign that would have told me that this exact can was forged of molten metal, and filled with liquid gold just for me. They want to tell me that this can is special, and subsequently, I am special, and that the union of two special things can only lead to greatness.

I am going to translate this into an analogy. ‘The brewery’ is the Winnipeg Jets. ‘I’ represent the rookies and prospects. The ‘liquid gold’ is obviously the contract and full time roster position, and the greatness is, well…greatness.

There were players out there on that rainy Saturday afternoon at training camp that were barely out of high school. Nikolaj Ehlers is 18 years old, 168lbs and managed to score 49 goals and 55 assists last season with the Halifax Mooseheads. It gets better. Nic Petan, who is 19 years old, scored 35 goals with 78 assists last season for a total of 113 points in only 63 games with the Portland Winterhawks. Scott Kosmachuk had 49 goals and 52 assists last season with the Guelph Storm.

If Don Cherry were here right now, I’m sure he’d say something like ‘these are good kids’. But he’s not. So I’ll just say it. The Jets are lucky – maybe strategic – to have prospects like this. A lot of these kids are getting their first taste of NHL action tonight in preseason game number one for the Jets. Most of them will be playing in front of the largest, most voracious and predatory hockey crowd they’ve ever encountered. The nerves will be sky high.

It isn’t just 15,004 of the league’s most savvy, bloodthirsty, cup-starved fans that they have to be nervous about. They need to impress the big boys of the club: Kevin Cheveldayoff and Paul Maurice; for without their approval, it’s back to the CHL, and all their hopes of playing in the big league this year are shot out the urethra like their last wet dream.

The future of this team is strong, and the draft and develop plan seems to be working, at least for now. The next generation of Winnipeg Jets are insanely fast, deadly accurate and would kill and die for a shot at the roster. This is indeed a great time to be a Jets fan.

One thing is for sure about these prospects; unlike me, they won’t need a motivator tonight. Their inspiration level is, most definitely, at a career high right now. They won’t need that magical blue can, like I do, because beer and hockey only go well together if you’re in the stands or on the couch.

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Jets Training Camp Opens Tomorrow

The Winnipeg Jets have announced their training camp will begin September 18, with medicals and physicals. The real fun starts the next day, this Friday, when we get a chance to first look at the team. There are some new faces this year like Mathieu Perreault who signed as a free agent in the off-season.

The most notable of the new faces, though, are the ones featured in the Young Stars tournament. Players like Nikolaj Ehlers, the 18 year old from Aalborg, Denmark. This kid can definitely score, and pass the puck, but it’s still unclear whether he can really throw down with the big boys in big league action.

Other players to watch for in training camp are Nic Petan and Josh Morrissey, who played extremely well in the World Juniors last year. Scott Kosmachuk is also noteworthy, as he scored a couple goals in the Young Stars tournament.

The thing that I am anticipating the most this season is consistency. The problem with what Claude Noel did – constantly changing the lines – is that no one line ever got a chance to properly form chemistry together. Enter Paul Maurice, and new problems arose because he wanted the team running a certain way, so the team was learning new philosophies on the fly.

This is the first complete year with Maurice as Head Coach, and you can be sure that he will see the season through. This means that the players will learn what he wants together, before the season starts, and they will have the whole preseason and early parts of the regular season to make it work. I can smell the playoffs already!

Along with the new, young blood in training camp this year, it all shapes up to be a season worth being excited for. This is a great time to be a Jets fan.