Although it is only late July, you can’t help but wonder how the Jets’ prospects are developing both physically and mentally. As you may know, the Jets just wrapped up their inaugural 2012 development camp a couple of weeks ago. The camp was a huge success for everyone involved especially for the hundreds of fans that were able to attend a few of the practices at the MTS IcePlex.
Several eyes were on prospect Mark Scheifele as the week went along and at first glance, it’s a safe assumption to say that everyone liked what they saw. Since he left Winnipeg last October, he has gained a total of 17 pounds. Whatever he's been doing since then has obviously been working.
“There have definitely been some changes,” said Scheifele about his workout program. “This year there has been a lot of focus on my nutrition. I’m eating the right things to help fuel my body so I’m working a lot of work with a nutritionist and stuff like that. I’m also getting a lot more rest compared to last year. It’s all about relaxing and refueling for the next day.”
Jets’ General Manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff was at the MTS IcePlex observing his prospects from the stands during development camp and had nothing but positive things to say about Scheifele's progress.
“We spent a lot of time talking with Scheif’ about the different things he needs to do to improve to continue to grow,” said Chevy. “We’re really pleased with the work he’s put in and the time and effort he’s put in and he’s showing a great dedication to wanting to be the best player that he can be. He has to - every player has to. This is a very, very competitive game and to get the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League is something these players don’t take lightly.”
After the whirlwind season that he had, Scheifele is showing his maturation not only physically but also mentally and professionally as well.
“Going through what I did last year, I’ve definitely matured,” said Scheifele. “I learned a lot of things, especially from the pros. I now cook one meal for my family each day, I got my high school diploma and I got my drivers license. I’m just doing the things I need to do to be more mature.”
After his junior Barrie Colts team was eliminated from the OHL playoffs, Scheifele joined the IceCaps in St. John's, Newfoundland, just in time for their playoff push. He got a taste first hand of what it was like to play in the American Hockey League and work under head coach Keith McCambridge. He played 10 games and picked up one assist with the IceCaps.
"We wanted him to have that experience at that pro-level and see what it's like," said McCambridge. "To play in playoff hockey and see what takes place day in and day out with that intensity and we thought he made some real strong strides. It was a very top-notch opportunity to be able to come into St. John’s and play against professionals and grown men on the ice. I was really pleased with what I saw from him.
“When I look at him now, he looks to be a little more rejuvenated out there, so that's a positive. Overall, you look at his game and you always hear that he's got to get stronger and it looks like he's made some steps in that direction. His energy level looks to be at a better level then it was when we saw him."
Confidence and leadership is another big part of Scheifele’s game and something he say’s he’s been working really hard to develop.
“When I got sent home from Winnipeg last year, they talked to me a lot about leadership and how to be a good leader so I really took that to heart,” said Scheifele. “I wanted to be more of a leader in Barrie and more of a leader in real life. I think I’ve really come a long way in the last year.
“Last year, being the new young guy, it was tough to come in and tell guys what to do. This year, I had a lot more confidence and was able to help guys out when they needed it. I wasn’t going around bossing them around but whenever someone needed help I was always open-eared and willing to help.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel also had his eye on Scheifele from the stands during development camp. He told JetsTV that he prefers not to assess players in July but said he definitely noticed a much more poised number 55.
“I don’t sit here and look at Mark and say, “ooh, he looks a lot closer or he doesn’t look a lot closer,” said Noel. “He looks more comfortable and he looks fit and it looks like he’s preparing himself but we’ll have to wait and see what takes place come September and go from there. He’s put on some pounds and he wants to put on a few more, but you have to make sure you put them on the right way and you’re able to carry them well, but I think we’re helping him along with that stuff.”