By Scott Billeck
The Winnipeg Jets opened up their 2013 development camp on Monday in front of a throng of fans, all looking to get the their first glimpse of Joshua Morrissey, Nic Petan as well as fan favorites Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba.
The beautiful weather in Winnipeg did little to persuade parents and their children from taking in the first day of development camp. People were in the bleachers of the MTS Iceplex as early as an hour before the scheduled start time at 1:15 p.m, while others waited patiently to get a picture of the players as they made their way across the concourse from the dressing room to the rink.
“It’s pretty surreal to see all those fans out there, my first few steps out of those doors and seeing all the people lined up and saying some pretty nice stuff – it’s pretty unreal,” said Joshua Morrissey, the Jets 2013 first round draft pick. “I was amazed, in Prince Albert I didn’t have that same attention so it was pretty cool to see all that and to see that the fans are that passionate.”
It was the first look at Morrissey for a lot of fans. His selection, at 13th overall was seen by some as an off-the-board pick, but he knows that the Jets have seen him play and is excited to show the fans what he has got.
“A lot of the coaches and a lot of people haven’t seen me play before,” said Morrissey. “Obviously, Chevy and all the scouts have watched me a lot this year, but a lot people haven’t so I want to make a good impression. There will obviously be areas that I need to improve on in the next month or so before (training) camp, just get a good baseline and show them what I can do.”
Morrissey wasn’t the only first round pick there today though, and there are high hopes in Jets-land that the previous two, Mark Scheifele in 2011 and Jacob Trouba in 2012, will crack the opening day roster and become mainstays in the Jets lineup.
“It feels good to be back here,” said Scheifele, who spent last season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Barrie Colts.
Scheifele has a clean bill of health coming into this week after a concussion sidelined him for Game Seven of the OHL finals against the London Knights, a game the Colts lost 3-2. Prior to the concussion Scheifele had 14 points in five games before bowing out in Game Six due to the injury.
“It was honestly the hardest thing I have ever gone though,” said Scheifele. “To see the guys heartbroken like that and not to be able to be with them was pretty tough to handle.”
Scheifele is squarely focused on making it as a top six forward this year for the Jets and is taking every opportunity to get better before training camp in the fall, including working with former NHLer Gary Roberts.
“It’s going really good, I’ve been there for just over a month now and have already seen huge gains in my body and in my strength so the rest of summer will definitely help,” explained Scheifele. “He’s (Roberts) been doing a really good job and its been good to be in a program like that and be able to train with (Jacob) Trouba, (Julian) Melchiori, and (Lukas) Sutter. It helps me a lot and pushes me too.”
“We are pretty good friends, and we are both pretty competitive people – I don’t want him to beat me and he’s not going to want to let me beat him,” added Trouba. “I think it is good and healthy for our relationship and it’s only going to help us.”
Like Scheiele, Trouba wants nothing more than to make the Jets roster full time.
“I feel better now than I have my whole career so I am looking forward to having a good season and hopefully I end up in Winnipeg,” said Trouba.