After arriving in Winnipeg over the September long weekend, newly acquired Steve Mason didn't waste any time getting on the ice.
He was one of five goaltenders participating in Tuesday's informal skate at Bell MTS Iceplex, and was back out there again on Wednesday morning, meeting his new teammates.
"(Pre-training camp practices) are an extremely important part of the season for new guys, especially, to come in before camp and get to know guys and get a little bit of a base relationship going," said Mason. "I know especially for myself and the rest of the goaltenders here, it's a unique position. You spend lots of time doing extra work amongst ourselves, so it's good to get to finally meet these guys, put a face to a name and start building a relationship because it is so important to have a good partnership here."
The 29-year-old won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year after a 2008-2009 campaign that saw him post a 2.29 goals against average and 10 shutouts with the Columbus Blue Jackets. In 2012-2013, he was moved to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he played until he signed with the Jets a few hours after Free Agency opened on July 1.
Mason - a native of Oakville, ON - says he's had to change the way he approaches off-season training as his career has gone on.
"Right now, in my point in the career it's a lot about mobility, range of motion, making sure that there is a lot of injury prevention stuff," he said. "When I was younger I was doing a little bit more of weight training and things like that. But now it's a lot of body weight, body mobility, making sure that this is a healthy season for myself and you know if I have my flexibility that's a big part of it."
In the summer, Mason also works with goaltender coaches Dave and Marco Franco in the Toronto area. He says while they do a lot of position specific work together, nothing replaces seeing NHL-calibre shooters like he does at these practices before training camp.
"You have the base of your summer work but now that you get back out on the ice with NHL guys, you can't replace that," he said. "It's nice to finally be out here in Winnipeg, be at the rink, be a round the guys, new teammates, new faces so there is a lot to take in these last couple days - but it's been great. Guys have been really welcoming and excited to finally be here and have the Jets logo on."