The days are getting shorter for Coach Claude Noel as time winds down on training camp. Decision time is just around the corner. Jets' management and coaching staff will have to get down to their full-time roster of 22 which includes one extra forward and one extra defenceman.
The group of 36 players took to the ice this morning at the MTS Centre for their last full off-day practice before their last pre-season game tomorrow night. Players eagerly crowded into the dressing room after practice to look at the white board where the list was posted for who will be playing in tomorrow night's match-up against the Nashville Predators.
"We wanted to recognize who's played how many games and trying to see some of the other players and the young players. It was a lot of who do you need to see, who do you need to see more of?" said Noel.
Probable roster for Friday night.Forwards
-Ben Maxwell- Game time decisionDefencemen
-Chris Mason NO PRESSURE FOR GREGOIRE
Players are feeling the grind over the last few days of training camp, as they all know that more cuts have to come soon. They are doing everything they can to prove themselves and stay in on the roster. Winnipeg native, Jason Gregoire
, would love nothing more than to play in the home opener on October 9th, in front of his friends and family. Gregoire assures that playing in Winnipeg has no added pressure- in fact, he's quite used to the family spotlight.
"No pressure whatsoever," said Gregoire. "Coming from UND (University of North Dakota), I
played there for three years and honestly, every home game I was getting 15 or sometimes 20 tickets for family and friends. I actually think the atmosphere's are pretty comparable. We had 12 or 13 thousand fans at UND, with a lot of pressure to win and family in the stands all the time. Any pressure you put on yourself comes from within. I'm 22 years old, I've been playing hockey for a long time. You know what you have to do so at this point, it's just going out and doing it and having fun."
The term "bubble player" is thrown around this time of year mainly by the fans and the media. Being on the bubble, simply means that the player is floating around a roster spot. They have what it takes to play in the NHL probably in all aspects, but the question remains, have they made enough of an impression on the coaches and shown that they are ready? Gregoire's name has been used with the term bubble player during this training camp.
"You have to accept it, you know where you are. If I were to reject those comments and say that I'm not a bubble player, I'd be crazy. It might even help coming in under the radar as a bubble player and having to prove yourself then coming in being complacent and maybe not giving it your all.
"That's certainly not a position I'd never want to put myself in, even if I was a regular. You always have to come in and prove yourself because you have guys like Scheifele -18-year-olds, wanting to take your spots and they can, that's the crazy thing. You have to bring it every night."
All Gregoire can do now is hope that he has shown Noel and management enough to find his name on the roster sheet for October 9th, the home opener against the Montreal Canadiens.
"These exhibition games have been unbelievable so I can't imagine what the regular season home opener is going to be like against Montreal. It would obviously be a very special thing to be a part of. It would definitely be reaching a goal in my life, playing in the NHL. This is pretty darn close playing in these exhibition games but it's not it. As cool as it is, it's not the goal just yet.
"The funny thing about hockey," he added. "You dream about being in the NHL but it's never enough. You want to be a regular then you want to be an all-star, so there are a lot of steps along the way. Playing in that opener would be unbelievable for me."