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Mason, Hellebuyck developing friendship in the crease

Goaltending coach Wade Flaherty says Mason has "fit in perfect."

by Jamie Thomas @JamieThomasTV / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - Steve Mason and Connor Hellebuyck are getting along well in the short time they have been teammates, even though they are competing for playing time this season.

"They have a great relationship right now." said Jets goaltending coach Wade Flaherty. "On the ice they work together very well. So I'm really happy with where it's at and (Mason) coming to the team, coming to a new team, I think he's fit in perfect."

Flaherty was pleased with all the one-on-one time that he had with Mason, Hellebuyck, Michael Hutchinson, Eric Comrie, and Jamie Phillips throughout training camp. Especially with Mason being the new guy in town, after the Oakville product signed as a free agent back in July.

"You're building that one-on-one connection," said Flaherty. "We're both trying to get to know each other so we got the one-on-one time going. Saw him in the exhibition, obviously I've watched video on him and there were some things that we wanted to discuss and work on, and we accomplished those things."

"The same with Helly (Hellebuyck),"continued Flaherty. "Helly had a really busy summer, working on a lot of things. I have that relationship with Helly, I know what he was working on."

NHL IN CHINA

Earlier this month the NHL returned to China with a couple of preseason games between the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings in Shanghai and Beijing respectively. Flaherty knows all about playing hockey in Asia, and likes the idea of expanding the game there. During the 2008-09 season, Flaherty played 36 games for the China Sharks in the Asia League of Ice Hockey.

"That's what they were trying to do back then (grow the game), and it was through the San Jose Sharks," said Flaherty. "Greg Jamison (former president and CEO of the San Jose Sharks), and (China Sharks GM) Chris Collins and they were trying to develop hockey over there."

Flaherty was 39 at the time, trying to recover from a shoulder injury, and had thoughts about just retiring from hockey. Then the idea for him to play and serve as the goaltending coach for the Chinese national team was presented to him.

"I didn't even know there was hockey in China," said Flaherty. "But the more I talked to them, the more interesting it got. Because they were talking about developing hockey from the grass roots and that was the goal, that was the plan. It just didn't work out that way.

"Went over there, had a blast; it was all North American style out there. From the coaches, to the trainers, Chris (Collins) was management and they took great care of us."

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