St. Paul, MN – It’s been an extraordinary 24 hours for members of the Winnipeg Jets.
The Jets finally arrived in Minnesota on Sunday morning ahead of game three in their series with the Minnesota Wild after a day of travel delays sent them back to Winnipeg.
On Saturday the Jets’ flight to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was re-routed to Duluth after a rare April blizzard paralyzed the Twin Cities. After about 90 minutes on the tarmac the Jets flew back to Winnipeg where they spent the night before flying in early on Sunday.
“We’re here.” Head coach Paul Maurice said. “We got all our gear. We’re fine.”
The extra time on the airplane meant for some extra team bonding.
“Guys were playing cards.” Jets forward Paul Stastny said. “We were watching kinda the afternoon games and watching the basketball games, so different guys kinda used their hot spots to turn the games on. Guys were kinda hungry so once you ran out of food then it was just everyone kind of roaming around, just kinda hanging out with each other.”
No big deal according to players on the Jets who are used to the long travel days.
“It’s status quo.” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. “Luckily it was a close flight. Just a quick one, so no different. Our routine stayed the same today.”
“It was a long day but ultimately you can’t control everything. You try to control as much as you can and we’re pretty spoiled the way we travel, so got to spend a little extra quality time with the guys, slept in our own bed last night, so not all bad.”
The Jets were forced to skip their usual game day morning skate ahead of Sunday night’s game three.
“Older guys love it.” Wheeler said.
Sunday’s routine will more closely resemble a pre-season game but long travel days come with the territory of being a professional athlete and they’ve been around this block once or twice before.
“At least this one you expect it.” Stastny said. “You’re warned before ’cause of the weather but I’ve had some planes where no one knows and you sit on the plane for a couple hours. Then you get in the city and it’s a big metropolitan city. You get there at six and you don’t get to the hotel til 7:30 because of the traffic. Those are more flustering than anything.”
With so many games in so little time many players skip the morning skate in the playoffs anyway. The team also arrived early enough that players could still take their pre-game naps and get their usual pre-game meal ahead of the 6:00 pm puck drop.
“We got in here early enough to watch video, have a lunch in, have a nap and then it’s right back to business.” Stastny said.
The Jets lead the Wild 2-0 in their best of seven conference quarterfinal series.