‘I was gassed’: Winnipeg Jets Patrik Laine taken down by testing day to open training camp
It was the day all NHL players dread.
It was fitness testing day as the Winnipeg Jets opened up their 2018 training camp.
Players were only on the ice for about 30 minutes each, but Jets forward Patrik Laine was one of the many victims, succumbing to the grueling “beep test” where they have to skate further and faster with each annoying beep.
“I was gassed,” Laine said. “It was bad. It was tough. You guys saw it. It was tough.”
And that’s after losing more than just his beard over the summer — Laine also dropped 14 pounds. The 20-year-old now tips the scales at 215 pounds, all in an effort to be quicker and get off to a better start.
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“I think that was the main focus this year to feel good right from the start,” Laine said. “And just try to feel fast right away and get some explosiveness to those first couple steps.”
“You can tell he worked,” Jets forward Bryan Little said. “He looks physically in better shape.”
At least early in camp Laine is expected to start on a line with Little and Nikolaj Ehlers to make up their new second line after the loss of Paul Stastny to free agency.
“I haven’t played with many guys like that,” Little said. “Especially Patty, where they’re that good at shooting the puck. The closest guy for me would be [Ilya] Kovalchuk where you get him the puck in a certain area and you just had the feeling that it was gonna go in.”
There was one noticeable absence on day one of camp with restricted free agent defenceman Josh Morrissey not on the ice, still needing a new contract first.
“I think you’ve seen this quite a few times now over the years around the league,” Little said. “As a player you just have confidence that something will get done and he’ll be here as soon as he can.”
“You make a decision, you stand up for what you believe in,” Jacob Trouba said. “I wouldn’t expect him to take anything that he feels is less than what he feels he’s worth.”
While most expected an agreement would be reached by the start of camp, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is still trying to hammer out a new deal with his blossoming shutdown defenceman,
“Not really much to update,” Cheveldayoff said. “In constant communication with his representatives and again just remain hopeful that the situation gets resolved soon.”
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Now that the dreaded fitness testing is done for another year, the pucks can come out of the bag for the real practices that begin on Saturday. The Jets’ first exhibition game is just days away as they’ll host the Minnesota Wild Monday at Bell MTS Place.
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