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Jets excited to be in Hockeyville

by Brian Compton
It's extremely rare that an NHL team conducts a morning skate that is open to the public, but that is the norm in Kraft Hockeyville.

The Winnipeg Jets arrived on the ice here at Mile One Centre at about 9 a.m. Newfoundland time and were greeted by roughly 1,000 rabid fans who will surely be back tonight to watch the preseason game between the Jets and Ottawa Senators.

Two-time Stanley Cup winner Andrew Ladd was a good sport and wore a microphone during the pre-game twirl. He's excited to participate in his first Kraft Hockeyville game this evening.

"It was fun … there was a bunch of kids in the crowd," the Jets' captain said. "You can see how excited they are. It's always fun to do events like this and to get people involved that don't normally get a chance to see NHL hockey and to see their reaction to it."

One could understand that the Jets were a tad groggy on the ice this morning, as their bodies were still on Winnipeg time. Newfoundland is 2 1/2 hours ahead, which meant the team was really up this morning before dawn.

"It wasn't a very good morning skate for us, some of the guys were a little sleepy," defenseman Ron Hainsey told me, as the Jets had a 7 a.m. wakeup call -- or 4:30 in Winnipeg. "It's fun. It's always fun when there's energy in the building. I'm sure the game will be fun tonight, too."

Winnipeg coach Claude Noel is battling a cold, but he's nonetheless thrilled to be in St. John's, which will host the Jets' top minor-league affiliate this season. He and his players are happy to embrace the Kraft Hockeyville event, which seems to get bigger each year.

"The Hockeyville thing is really good and it's really exciting for us," Noel said. "What's really worked out in our favor is this is our farm team. It couldn't have worked out any better. We end up getting a franchise that we didn't know, or certainly I didn't know, and then we end up putting an American League team here. It all works great for us. The excitement now is double what we've got in Winnipeg and what we've got up here. The frenzy continues out here in the East. It's great for us."
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