WINNIPEG - For the first time in 10 months, the Winnipeg Jets took to the ice at Bell MTS Place.
Flip the calendar back a few pages to March 2020, and Winnipeg's match-up with the Arizona Coyotes on March 9 - a 4-2 win - was the last time the group played on Portage Avenue.
Today, they were back, but it looked much different.
Tarps covered the lower levels of the seating surrounding the sheet of ice that hosted the second scrimmage of camp. Certain sections are off limits entirely, all in the name of keeping everyone safe.
Still, it was nice to be back.
"It was definitely eye opening for sure. We're very fortunate," said Andrew Copp. "We've put in a lot of hard work to make sure it's as safe as possible for the players, as safe as possible for the community. Doing things the right way so we can continue playing the game we love and give an opportunity for the community to come together."
SCRIMMAGE PHOTO GALLERY
Another change to the building is on the ice itself. The Jets logo that normally fills the centre ice circle has been replaced with the 10th anniversary logo, which features Dale Hawerchuk's number 10.
That had special meaning to Jets centre Mark Scheifele, who Hawerchuk coached from 2010-13.
"What happened in the summer with Dale was really tough for me. He's watching all of us," said Scheifele. "He's watching down on me and he'll be taking care of me from Heaven. All you can do is try to work your hardest every single day and know you're doing everything to honour him, his name, his family."
Scheifele had one of Team White's two goals in the 40-minute scrimmage on Monday. The other came off the stick of Nikolaj Ehlers.
Team Blue had goals from Joona Luoto and David Gustafsson, the latter of the two participating in his first skate with the main group since training camp opened on Jan. 4.
Derek Forbort had the eventual game-winner in the shootout.
Video: Scrimmage Highlights - Jan. 11
The rosters were broken down in a specific way, as head coach Paul Maurice spent the first 30 minutes of the session (which finished around a total of 70 minutes) working on special teams.
Specifically, he wanted to look at a penalty kill duo of Tucker Poolman and Derek Forbort.
"You'll see those two guys as a pair on the PK," said Maurice.
"It could be a place that we're going to go. It's not where we're going to start."
The rest of the rosters looked like this:
Maurice said this will likely be the last of the longer sessions as he starts to bring the group size down in preparation for Thursday's home opener against the Calgary Flames.
Usually, the home opener is an exciting night with the fans inside Bell MTS Place reaching their familiar volumes inside the building in downtown Winnipeg.
It'll be different this year.
"I'm standing behind the bench part way through (the scrimmage) and it just hits you again. I'm really happy to be back, don't get me wrong, it isn't anywhere near as much fun when there are no fans," said Maurice.
"It changes the dynamic completely with no fans in the building. It's not a complaint, I'm glad we're back playing, I'm glad the league worked so hard to figure out a way that we could play this game. The job isn't nearly as much fun. That energy is what makes the NHL fun."
Monday's scrimmage was a glimpse into what the games will be like this season. Defenceman Nathan Beaulieu knows the team will have to put that out of their minds as they focus on contending in the North Division.
The 56 games will go by quickly. Winnipeg plays eight games in 16 days to start the month of January.
"Every game matters. You get behind the eight ball early this season, it's going to be a tough grind to get back," said Beaulieu. "I think we're excited. Our team is built for this challenge."
Players will miss the fans and the energy they bring every night. Beaulieu is hopeful the energy from outside finds its way indoors somehow.
"Winnipeg is known for having the best fans in the league, just with how loud this building gets and how they rally around playoff time. We know our fan base is going to be watching closely, just not as close as we'd like," said Beaulieu.
"This is a passionate city, so I think we'll feel them from the outside."
The Jets placed five players on waivers Monday. Those players were Mathieu Perreault, Luca Sbisa, Nelson Nogier, C.J. Suess, and Eric Comrie.
Teams have until 4 pm CT on Tuesday to submit the opening night roster.
Still, the decisions aren't easy. Especially when it comes to Perreault, a veteran forward with 627 games of NHL experience.
"This is wholly and completely a cap compliance issue," said Maurice. "We need to be at a certain place for opening night. There is always the chance that Mathieu could get claimed on waivers. If he doesn't, nothing changes in terms of his availability to be in the line-up on opening night."
Perreault's teammate, Andrew Copp, is hopeful all of those players slide through the 24-hour waivers window without being picked up, as they all are big parts of the organization.
"(Perreault) has been here since I've been here," said Copp. "He's one of those guys that brings it every day. He's an important piece up and down the line-up. Hopefully our team doesn't get changed because we like the direction we're going."
Speaking of Copp, he had one familiar linemate (Adam Lowry) and one not so familiar (Trevor Lewis) on Monday.
However, Maurice didn't have an update in terms of the status of Lewis' professional tryout.
"That's a Kevin Cheveldayoff question in terms of how that all works out," said Maurice. "You keep in mind what we did with Sbisa and Perreault going on waivers. There are moving parts with the cap. I've liked his camp an awful lot."
As for Ville Heinola and Cole Perfetti's arrival at Jets camp, Maurice said Heinola will be part of that "taxi squad idea" when he comes out of quarantine. Perfetti will join the team "somehow" depending on the numbers on the roster at the time he comes out of quarantine.