In NHL.com’s Q&A feature called “Sitting Down with…”, we talk to key figures in the game and gain insight into their lives on and off the ice. In this edition, we present the Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele.
HENDERSON, Nev. — Mark Scheifele you can feel an urgency among the Winnipeg Jets heading into this season.
The Jets, who host the New York Rangers in their regular season opener on Oct. 14, are eager to bounce back after failing to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the first time since 2016-17 and they know that time runs for its center. Scheifele, go ahead blake wheeldefenders Brenden Dillon Y Dylan De Melo and goalkeeper Connor Hellebuyck they are every two seasons eligible to become unrestricted free agents. Forward Nikolay Ehlers Y mason appleton and advocates neal pionk Y Nate Schmidt they can become unrestricted free agents the following season.
“There’s not a lot of guys that are here for a long time,” Scheifele said. “I think they see it as we have a short window to be successful, and we have a lot of older guys who want to be successful right now, and I think we all have high expectations for ourselves and as a team. I think that’s a good thing.”
After Winnipeg (39-32-11) finished eight points behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card in the Western Conference playoffs last season, their biggest offseason move was hiring coach Rick Bowness to replace Dave Lowry, who took over as interim. coach after Paul Maurice resigned on December 17. Although the Jets haven’t changed much personnel-wise, Scheifele believes they have the potential to bounce back with much of their roster remaining from the team that was 30-23-3 and got to second. playoff round in 2020-21.
“I think we look at our team because we have a lot of fantastic players,” Scheifele said. “Obviously our top six strikers are pretty dynamite. We’ve got a lot of good players. We’ve got a lot of skilled players who can score, we’ve got great [defense] corps, and we have one of the best goalkeepers in the league. So we have the pieces and it’s just a matter of setting them up and mixing them in the right way.”
NHL.com caught up with Scheifele on the NHL North American Player Media Tour on September 16. The 29-year-old forward, who had 70 points (29 goals, 41 assists) in 67 games last season, spoke about the Jets’ culture, his feelings about how he played last season, his comments after last season about his future and more.
Bowness spoke after he was hired about the possible need to change the culture around the team. The decision was then made to remove Wheeler as captain and start this season without one. Did Bowness ask you about the culture when you met him?
“He asked me what the room was like and I gave him an honest answer, that we have a very tight room. We have a lot of really good guys who love hockey, who want to work on their game and want to get better and we have a really good room, and I think last year we were a little bit lost. We were almost looking for something. With the coach leaving and an interim guy coming in, we were a bit of a lost group last year. [lousy] feeling. definitely [stunk] And I think we’re all excited about a fresh start with new coaches, new voice, new thoughts, new system, new structure, all of that.”
How would you evaluate your game individually last season?
“It was kind of a roller coaster ride. There would be periods where I really liked my game and periods where I really didn’t like my game. It’s one of those things that was a constant search to try to feel. You know, it happened a lot more time on the ice trying to figure things out on my own game and how I was feeling I started with COVID earlier in the year and missed 14 days on the ice which I don’t think anyone really understands how hard it is to be off the ice for 14 days for a hockey player. I don’t take 14 days off even in the summer… So it was one of those years where adversity kept hitting. There was something, then something else, then something else. That’s why that I’m really excited about this new start with new coaches and a lot of new things.
At the Manitoba Open golf tournament in August, he clarified his comments at the end of last season questioning whether he would stay with the Jets and made it clear he didn’t want to leave. Was it something that weighed you down this summer?
“Not really. You can’t spend too much time on those things because it’s not your job. Your job is to play hockey, so I focused on working on my game, working in the gym, doing everything I could.” do to become a better hockey player and no matter what happens, it will happen.
You’ve been with the Jets since the franchise’s restart in Winnipeg in 2011. Right now, do you consider yourself part of the fabric there?
“Yeah. To think that I’ve been here for 11 years is pretty crazy too. I still see myself as a young guy and I’m one of the older guys on the team. It’s kind of crazy to think about it, but I don’t know anything other than the Winnipegs.” Jets. That’s all I know. I eat, sleep and breathe Winnipeg Jets and that’s why I care so much. That’s why my comments at the end of the year were misconstrued.
“All I was trying to say is I care and I want to win. I want this organization to win. I want my voice [be] I heard how much I care about this organization, how much I care about this team, how much I care about the guys in the room and all I want to do is win. I want there to be a plan and for all of us to know what’s going on and have a winning culture and bring a Stanley Cup to the Winnipeg community.”
You made some changes to your offseason training. What was the reasoning behind that and what did you do differently?
“I changed coaches. I started working with (Brian Galivan) in Plymouth, Michigan on the (USA National Hockey Team Development) Program there. (Detroit Red Wings forward and former Jets teammate) Andrew CoppHe’s probably my best friend. I lived with him for several years in Winnipeg. He started working with him last summer and I really liked the stuff he was doing and the workouts he was doing and all the workouts and stuff like that. So I called them and talked to them and got their input and gave them my input and we really formed a great relationship, and I spent a good amount of time in Michigan this summer.
“Pretty good skateboarding there: the Hughes brothers (Jack of the New Jersey Devils and Quinn of the Vancouver Canucks), (Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach) Werenski, (Montreal Canadiens forward Cole) Caufield, (the Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor) Zegras was (Dylan, Red Wings forward) Larkin was there (Jets forward). Kyle Connor It was there. ‘Dubi’ (Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois) was there at the end of the summer. Just a fantastic skate. Lots of skilled players. A lot of young guys who have a lot of skill and are fast. So I really enjoyed my time there and had a great summer with them.”
How do you think that will benefit you?
“Since COVID came, I was in limbo. You couldn’t go to gyms and then you could go to gyms and you had a show, and you didn’t have a show. I was like half working with a guy, half doing my thing and not having all the right equipment. It made it hard. So it was good to have a plan this summer. What I was trying to accomplish was set in stone. The things I needed to improve on, where I already had a good foundation, how I could improve It was good to have that plan and to have a good four months of training. That was really exciting.”