Getting a Fehr chance

Jets forward Eric Fehr is getting a shot to get back into the lineup for the first time since Feb....

Jets forward Eric Fehr is getting a shot to get back into the lineup for the first time since Feb. 21. (Jason Halstead/QMI Agency/Files)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:41 PM ET

WINNIPEG - Eric Fehr just earned himself a shot at what could ultimately be The Last Chance Cafe.

After being relegated to spare-part duty for the better part of the past month, a lower-body injury to Chris Thorburn has swung open the gate and allowed Fehr to be let out of the corral for the Winnipeg Jets.

With Wednesday’s clash with the Dallas Stars on the horizon, head coach Claude Noel is tapping Fehr on the shoulder to replace Thorburn on the popular — and effective — checking line with Tanner Glass and Jim Slater.

Understandably, Fehr is excited about the latest opportunity that has presented itself.

After all, it sure beats the alternative.

“It’ll be exciting,” said Fehr. “I’ve been working hard while I’ve been out, trying to stay in shape and be ready to play whenever they call upon me. It’s been pretty tough ... confidence is not an easy thing to get. I’ve got to find a way to get confidence, whether it’s from five minutes, 10 minutes or 15 and try to play a skilled game.”

To say it’s been a disappointing season for Fehr to this point is a massive understatement.

After undergoing off-season surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder, Fehr had to be cautious with his recovery and by the time he made it back into the lineup for his Jets’ debut on Nov. 19, it seems like he’s constantly been trying to make up for lost time.

When general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff acquired Fehr from the Washington Capitals this past summer for a fourth round draft pick in 2012 and an ECHL prospect, it looked like a steal of a deal.

The only risk was whether or not Fehr would come back healthy and it seemed a foregone conclusion that the 18th overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft would work his way into the Jets’ Top-6 forwards and find a way to reach double digits in goals.

For a variety of reasons — including diminished confidence — Fehr has yet to reach his stride or potential this season.

Perhaps a chance to play with Glass and Slater might help Fehr out of his funk?

“They work hard and that’s the bottom line with those guys,” said Fehr, who did see plenty of third-line minutes when he played for the Capitals. “I enjoy it. Those guys are easy to predict, you know you’re going to get pucks deep and you know they’re going to be in the right spots for cycles and everything.”

Through the combination of injuries and his lack of production, Fehr hasn’t really worked his way in Noel’s good books and he’s been on the receiving end of a couple of the head coaches public rants, so it’s safe to assume the leash on this experiment might be short.

When discussing the move on Monday, Noel didn’t exactly give Fehr a ringing endorsement.

In fact, he went so far as to say it wasn’t necessarily a natural fit to put Fehr with Slater and Glass but reiterated it’s up to the right-winger to show what he’s going to do with it.

“He’s earned the opportunity because he’s here,” said Noel. “He’s not a checking type of player, he’s more of a scorer or finisher, but that’s where the door opens right now. I’m giving him the opportunity to get into the lineup and get minutes. I’m not going to give him an automatic berth into the Top-6.

“If he plays better, he’ll play (more).”

With only 13 games left in the regular season, Fehr — a pending restricted free agent — is running out of chances.

But you can be sure he’s going to give everything he has to make this one count.

THE ERIC FEHR FILE

— Acquired from Washington Capitals for a fourth round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and forward Danick Paquette

— Has one goal and two points in 33 games with the Jets this season, with 49 shots on goal

— Lone assist was Nov. 29 vs Ottawa Senators

— Lone goal came on Jan. 10 vs Boston Bruins

— Played a season-high 16:07 vs Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 31

— Played 10 minutes or more in 13 of his 33 games this season

— Had 10 goals and 20 points in 52 games with the Capitals last season

— Produced a career-high 21 goals and 39 points in 69 games in 2009-10


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