Jets ready to roll with the punches as new season approaches

WINNIPEG — With training camp less than a week away for the Winnipeg Jets, there continues to be a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds as the team will prepare for a season like no other.

The Jets will be part of the North Division, otherwise known as the Canadian Division, when the NHL season opens on Jan. 13.

Jets General Manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff spoke with media on Tuesday going over everything from what the teams taxi squad could look like to what to expect while playing during the pandemic.

When it comes to the taxi squad, which will be a group of players that stays with each team to limit the need for unnecessary travel in case there is an injury and a player needs to be called up, Cheveldayoff said he is still gathering information to know how that will work best.

“Trying to understand where the American Hockey League might have to fit in and how it might have to operate for us this year. There’s a lot of behind the scenes discussion that are still going on there,” he said.

He said the taxi squad will be unique as teams have never had to deal with it before.

“Having players that are just practising and not playing you have to take some certain things into consideration from a player development standpoint as well.”

When Winnipeg opens camp, there will be some fresh faces participating for the first time, including Cole Perfetti who is currently playing in Edmonton as part of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.

Cheveldayoff said when Perfetti comes to camp he will have to go through a modified quarantine for seven days before he is allowed to join the rest of the team.

That is just one of the many changes that have been put in place due to the pandemic.

The differences that impact players on the ice are easier to spot, but Cheveldayoff said it has led to some difficulties off the ice, such as scouting young prospects.

“It’s something that you’re constantly trying to evaluate, constantly trying to come to grips with,” he said, “You learn to adapt, and you learn to use video. Everyone becomes a video editor at some point in time here throughout this pandemic, but it still doesn’t take away from the human scouting aspect of things.”

He added this could lead to challenges for the upcoming draft as there is so much uncertainty with leagues around the world.

Despite the challenges that the team and the league as a whole have to face, Cheveldayoff said he is excited for the upcoming season and noted the team that will see the most success will be the one that can roll with the punches.

Training camp will start on Jan. 3 and the Jets will open up their season on Jan. 14 in a bubble rematch against the Calgary Flames.

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