Noel gaining a handle on Jets

, Last Updated: 3:19 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Claude Noel didn’t spend Thursday night standing in front of a mirror or rehearsing the speech he planned to give the Winnipeg Jets hopefuls.

On Friday, Noel wasn’t really trying to downplay the fact he was preparing to embark on his first training camp as a full-fledged NHL coach, but rather just acting like he’s been there before.

“Today is another day for me,” said Noel, who was the head coach of the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League last season and was the interim head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final 24 games of the 2009-10 campaign.

“Everything has happened so fast, I haven’t really had a lot of time to sit there and say ‘oh geez, I’m an NHL coach now.’

“Coaching is coaching. For me, you deal with players. It’s a different level in the NHL, there’s no question about that. I’m happy to be coaching and be coaching this team. It’s a perfect scenario here in Winnipeg for a number of reasons. I’m looking forward to it and to the challenges ahead. We want to have a good year.”

After an outstanding start, the Atlanta Thrashers finished 12th in the Eastern Conference last season, so finding a way to get into the Top-8 and earn a playoff spot is going to be one of those challenges.

But extending the season beyond 82 games is clearly the goal going into this season.

Since being named head coach of the Jets on June 24, Noel has spent ample time watching players on video and has a feel for some of their tendencies but the true test will come from what he learns about the personalities, both on and off the ice.

The season opener on Oct. 9 will arrive quickly, so Noel will be in full-fledged evaluation mode from this point forward.

“I won’t be a spectator, that will be the farthest thing from what I’ll be,” said Noel. “My biggest task here as a coach this year is to get a handle on the players. How are these guys and how do they respond to certain scenarios. How do they respond to my type of coaching, how do they respond to playing in Canada and how do they respond to different types of adversity that they’re going to face.

“We’ll be building a foundation for a relationship, which is what you do when you have a new team. You have to invest in each player and you have to invest in your team.”

The 60 players invited to Jets training camp will break into three sessions as the on-ice portion begins on Saturday at MTS Iceplex at 9 a.m.

The first pre-season games go on Tuesday as the Jets play home-and-home split squad games against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


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