Mark Scheifele still doesn’t have a Winnipeg Jets jersey to call his own.
Taking part in the Jets rookie camp at MTS Iceplex, at least now he knows what they look like.
After taking all sorts of abuse from friends and fellow draftees in late June at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn. for having to sport the NHL issue hat and jersey when he stepped to the podium, the Jets first-round selection stepped on the ice Saturday and felt enormous pride slipping on the jersey — even if it was just a practice jersey.
“The NHL one is still hanging in my room,” said Scheifele, who got a nice applause from the roughly 1,000 fans in attendance. “It felt unreal to put on that new logo and actually get to be skating where the Jets will practice.”
One of the things the 18-year-old Scheifele has done consistently since hearing his name called by the Jets was show his genuine enthusiasm and passion for the game.
That was evident once again on Saturday, as he dazzled the crowd, first with the lightning-quick release on his snapshot.
Later in the session, Scheifele brought fans to their feet with a glorious forehand-backhand deke to the top shelf that dislodged the water bottle from the top of the net.
“It was fun to see the fans go crazy,” said Scheifele, who is coached on the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League by former Jets star Dale Hawerchuk. “I loved it.”
Scheifele added 10 pounds of muscle during the off-season and spent the past two weeks in OHL training camp.
“When you put on strength and weight, you feel more comfortable playing against older guys,” said Scheifele, who had 22 goals and 75 points in 66 games with the Colts last season. “I want to soak it all in and show the Jets that I was the right pick and show them I’m the real deal.”
On Friday, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters he wasn’t surprised to see Scheifele put in the work to add the 10 pounds of muscle.
“I know how hard he has worked and I heard some great things about him from the World Junior training camp and from that time on,” Cheveldayoff said.
It was the first time for Jets head coach Claude Noel to see Scheifele on the ice and he liked what he saw.
“He shoots the puck well, skates well and does some good things,” Noel said.