Winnipeg Jets

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Trevor Strader honors late dad with stirring rendition of U.S. anthem (Video)

It was a touching scene inside American Airlines Center on Monday when Trevor Strader, son of late Dallas Stars play-by-play man Dave Strader, performed the national anthem before their game against the Winnipeg Jets.

The hockey world lost Dave Strader on Oct. 1 after he passed away following a long battle with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of bile duct cancer. While he was diagnosed in June 2016, he managed to work five Stars games last season as well as a few during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

[Stars announcer Dave Strader dies at 62]

This is the second straight year Trevor has performed during the the team’s Hockey Fights Cancer night. The lavender warmup jerseys players wore during warmups will be auctioned off with proceeds, along with those from a 50/50 raffle, benefiting charity, including the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation.

Strader’s voice is missed not only in Dallas, but all around the hockey world. Next week he’ll be honored during the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto as winner of the 2017 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, which is gived to members of the radio and television industry “who make outstanding contributions to their profession and the game of ice hockey during their broadcasting career.”

“People who I’ve never met before, have talked to me for 20 minutes about not only what an incredible broadcaster he was, but how all he talked about was his kids,” Trevor Strader told Sean Shapiro of NHL.com. “Which I knew he was proud of us, so knowing we were always on the front of his mind, even at his job. He was always a dad and a husband first and then did his job. There has just been amazing support from so many people.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jets’ Patrik Laine on struggles: ‘Hockey is really hard right now’

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The Winnipeg Jets are winning and sitting in a playoff spot in the Western Conference as the NHL season enters its second month. But Patrik Laine can’t relate to all those happy feelings at the moment.

Team success is great, of course, but the Jets forward, who’s scored four times in 11 games this season, is in a bit of a rut offensively. He’s pointless in his last four games, which includes an 0-fer during Sunday’s 7-1 rout over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Laine’s play of late is weighing on him, as he expressed after Thursday’s morning skate before facing the Dallas Stars.

“It feels like hockey is really hard right now, but I think everyone is going to have the same kind of feelings sometimes,” Laine said. “Just have to move forward and get through it somehow.”

Through the Jets’ first seven games, Laine was averaging 3.5 shots per game. Over this little skid, he’s fired a total of five shots in four games. Last season, he went two four-game spells where he went pointless. Both times he responded with a goal in the following game en route to a 36-goal, 64-point rookie campaign.

For now, Laine says he’ll work through by doing what he’s quite good at.

“Obviously I don’t have a lot of confidence, so just try to shoot a lot and try to be simple that way and just try to work hard every shift,” he said.

“Confidence is a really interesting one to get your head around,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “The standard is hey, you’re getting your chances, just keep doing the right things, and it’s a standard because that’s all there is for a shooter until the puck gets by the goalie. Hitting posts doesn’t give a guy a whole lot of confidence for a guy that really values the goal scoring part of his game. It’s got to get in behind him. So we would start with all of these basics that would go into that and then if you’re not scoring goals there’s a whole lot of other things you could do to that can help your linemates score and help your hockey team win.”

It helps that Laine’s isnt’t he focal point of the Jets’ offense. It’s been a pretty balanced attack with 10 other forwards contributing to their 33 goals this season.

Last season, Laine had most of his success playing next to Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers. Over this brief slide he’s spent most of his even strength time with Ehlers and Bryan Little. So while he battles through these confidence issues in his game, we can be quite confident that he’s going to break out of this “slump” sooner than later. The talent he possesses is just too good.

“I’ve had bad seasons. I’ve had tougher situations than this,” Laine said. “And always I’ve found a way to come out of there. Hopefully I can do the same thing right now. I think I’m gonna do that.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Dustin Byfuglien, Matt Hendricks spend day off capturing monster fish (Photo)

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The Winnipeg Jets had some down time on Tuesday after beating the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 for their first victory of the season. Matt Hendricks and Dustin Byfuglien took advantage and spent the day fishing — and boy did they come home with a catch.

With help from fishing company Sturgeon Slayers, the Jets teammates took to the Fraser River in British Columbia and caught this monster.

The players couldn’t take it home because sturgeon are a threatened species, so the monster was released after posing for some photos.

Of course, this accomplishment didn’t happen without a bit of grumbling from some Jets fans. They were upset that Byfuglien, who sat out Monday’s game in Edmonton with a lower-body injury, was fishing instead of remaining in his hotel room covered in bubble wrap and hot towels. Head coach Paul Maurice, however, did not care.

“He had treatment. [He] did what he needed to do. [It’s a] soft-tissue issue,” Maurice said on Wednesday via the Winnipeg Free Press. “None at all. Just a little bit jealous, but no issue at all.”

Byfuglien will take the morning skate in Vancouver on Thursday but will not play against the Canucks. He’s considered day-to-day. Hendricks has been on injured reserve since the start of the season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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Report: Jets bringing journeyman G Leggio to camp on PTO

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David Leggio, who’s spent time with the Sabres, Capitals, Islanders and Coyotes organizations, has reportedly accepted a professional tryout with the Winnipeg Jets, per Buffalo Hockey Beat.

It wasn’t long ago that Leggio, now 31, was a quality AHL netminder. He went 38-24-1 with Rochester during the ’12-13 campaign, compiling a 2.56 GAA and .924 save percentage, but struggled last year between Bridgeport and Portland, and failed to land a contract this summer.

Despite some good showings at the minor-league level, Leggio has also yet to play in an NHL contest.

In Winnipeg, he’ll have a decent shot of earning a new deal. Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson are projected to be the club’s No. 1 and No. 2 next season, but they’ll have to stave off the hard-charging Connor Hellebuyck, who played very well for Team USA at the 2015 World Hockey Championships and was recently named the NHL’s No. 1 goaltending prospect by In Goal Magazine.

Leggio should be in line for a backup gig in the American League, especially with veteran Peter Budaj having moved on.

Related: AHL changes rule following Leggio incident

Ladd wants to re-sign before season starts

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If captain Andrew Ladd enters the season without a new contract, it will naturally raise questions that he would like to avoid.

“It would be nicer to get it done before the year … especially in a market like this, there are questions every day, so it’d be nice to move past it at some point,” Ladd said, per TSN. “I’ve been around long enough that I know sometimes these things take time. I think both parties are interested in getting something done. All the things add up.”

The 29-year-old forward has one season remaining on his five-year, $22 million contract, but his next deal is expected to be more lucrative. After all, he’s coming off of a campaign where he scored 24 goals and a career-high 62 points.

The Free Press estimated back in July that Ladd would ultimately get “north of $6 million” annually on a contract “worth in the range of $40 million.”

That would be in the same ballpark as the extensions for Brandon Dubinsky (six-year, $35.1 million) and Ryan Callahan (six-year, $34.8 million). All three of those players are fairly close in age and are noteworthy for being able to contribute offensively while maintaining a physical presence. Callahan is also a former captain.

Of course time is running out for Ladd and the Jets to agree to terms before the campaign begins and if they fail to do so, Ladd’s public eagerness to put this behind him will only add fuel to the speculation as to what the sticking point is. Which will, of course, lead to those daily questions.