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NHL Heritage Classic

Patrik Laine ready for first outdoor game

Forward says rink 'looks amazing' with Jets preparing to play Oilers in Heritage Classic on Sunday

by Scott Billeck / Correspondent



Patrik Laine talks about playing in his first-ever outdoor game this weekend at the Heritage Classic

  • 05:51 •

WINNIPEG -- Two Winnipeg Jets players got their first glimpse Thursday of what the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic will look like at Investors Group Field here on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports 2, NHL.TV). 

Rookie forward Patrik Laine and defenseman Tyler Myers had an up-close view of the ice ahead of the Jets' game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Laine, who got his first NHL hat trick Wednesday in a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, said he hasn't played a game outdoors but practiced outside with his friends in Tampere, Finland, as a kid. 

"Just practicing with my friends in our rink. I always spent a lot of hours in outdoor rinks," Laine said. "It looks amazing. Everyone has down a wonderful job of building this thing here. The rink looks a bit small in here … just waiting (for when) the puck drops."

Myers, who played on man-made rinks while growing up in Calgary, said he hasn't played outside in about 15 years. 

"I'm in awe looking at everything. It's pretty cool," Myers said. "It's looking good, even when the stadium is empty. I can't imagine when it's packed, filled with a bunch of Jets fans. I'm sure it will be quite the experience.

"It will be exciting for me. First outdoor game. It's going to be a tough one. They're a really good team with a lot of speed so we're going to have our hands full. We're pretty excited ourselves."

They're not the only ones. The 2016 NHL Heritage Classic Alumni Game on Saturday (4 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, NHL.TV) will feature former Jets captain Kris King, NHL senior vice president of hockey operations. 

"It's going to be a heck of a weekend," King said. "I've been training hard. This is as lean (and) mean as I'm going to get at 50.

"It's different. The game is the game. The big game is the big game and the alumni don't forget that. But when you get together and see the guys you haven't seen in 10-12 years, it's kind of like you were away for the summer and once you get back in the locker room, it's the same old stuff all over again. Everybody is taking shots at their favorite guy." 

Preparations have been smooth this week. 

"We've been able to follow our production schedule, basically, to a T," NHL senior manager of facilities operations Mike Craig said. "We're exactly right where we should be at this point. The family skate is [Friday], the media skate, so we should be definitely all ready to for then and really looking forward to the weekend."  

Temperatures are expected to reach the lower 50s on Saturday and the mid-40s on Sunday during the day, according to Environment Canada. Sunny skies are expected for Saturday, and the forecast Sunday calls for periods of rain. 

"There's a few different reports out there right now," Craig said. "We're expecting a little bit [of precipitation]. For the most part, that should be mostly overnight and early morning. We should be able to deal with that."

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