DePape wants to show all-around game

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:18 AM ET

PENTICTON, B.C. - Jordan DePape admits he had to do a double take.

As he stood on the blue-line for the national anthem on Tuesday for his first action in the 2011 Young Stars tournament, DePape had a huge smile on his face as he looked down and saw the Winnipeg Jets emblem on his chest.

For a Winnipegger who was merely a toddler when the Jets left town for the Arizona desert, this was a special moment, to be sure.

“Just looking down the Winnipeg Jets logo and seeing the fans in the crowd with Jets jerseys, it was pretty surreal,” said DePape, who is in Jets rookie camp on a tryout basis and will play for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League this season. “That’s kind of every hockey player’s dream, especially coming from Winnipeg. To actually have the franchise back is pretty amazing.”

The Jets looked a little weary in a 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, but DePape played with plenty of energy and even got in a scrap.

“I just wanted to prove that I’m an all-around type of guy,” said DePape, who had 21 goals and 48 points in 54 games with the Blazers last season. “I can play defensive hockey, score goals and fight. At the time, I thought our team needed a bit of a spark so I dropped the mitts.”

DePape, 19, had an outstanding season as a 16-year-old that saw him produce 34 goals, 51 assists and 85 points in 55 games with the Winnipeg Saints to earn Manitoba Junior Hockey League rookie of the year honours in 2008-09.

The following year he opted to join the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings but was dealt to the Blazers for Shayne Wiebe and missed out on the Memorial Cup experience.”

“That was tough, especially as a young guy,” said DePape. “Hearing the news about being traded was hard to take but those kind of things you have to deal with. Even if you’re a young hockey player, you have to realize that it’s a business and you have to go with it.

“I’m happy in Kamloops. We have to turn things around and we’re in a bit of a rebuilding mode but I have nothing but positive thoughts for the season.”

In an interesting turn of events, DePape and Wiebe both find themselves in rookie camp with the Jets and the subject has been broached (in a light manner, of course).

“It’s kind of funny,” said DePape. “Some of the guys didn’t know and I sometimes tell (Wiebe) that he ruined my career, but I’m just kidding around. There’s no hard feelings obviously and it’s working out for both of us.”

Although DePape was hoping to get into the lineup for the Jets tournament finale against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, St. John’s IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge told reporters that they didn’t want to risk sending the player back to his junior team with an injury so he’ll be scratched.

However, DePape received praise for what he showed in his lone game action.

“He’s a pretty scrappy player,” said McCambridge, who has been running the bench for the Jets during the tournament. “He plays with some speed, moves the puck well. He got in on the forecheck very efficiently and his defensive zone coverage was strong. I like the way he plays.

“I heard some things coming in and I was impressed by what I saw in the one game.”


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