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It’s no secret Patrik Laine’s a video gamer, so getting his reaction to the Vancouver Canucks players’ ban on the pastime during NHL road trips was a no-brainer Wednesday.
Asked for his insight, Laine was interrupted by centre Jack Roslovic, standing nearby. “Terrible idea,” the young centre chimed in. Laine quickly replied: “Terrible idea. I agree with you, Rosy.
“I think they just needed something to blame after last year,” added the Winnipeg Jets right-winger after practice at Bell MTS Iceplex.
Vancouver centre Bo Horvat said Tuesday his team will ban video-game play time on road trips, putting more of an emphasis on team-bonding activities, instead.
“Yeah, that’s definitely a no-go on the road,” Horvat told reporters. “No more Fortnite. No more bringing your video games on the road. It’s strictly team meals, team dinners and hanging out with the guys.”
Vancouver was dreadful last season, finishing tied for fifth-last in the NHL, and went just 15-22-4 on the road.
“There’s better ways to spend time on the road, whether it’s hanging out with the guys in the room, going to a movie with the guys, doing stuff outside your room,” Horvat said.
Laine maintained he doesn’t just huddle in his hotel room and stare at a screen during his free time.
“I usually don’t play after, like, 9 (p.m.). I just want to kind of go down and kind of prepare for bed. I think before that, you can play as much as you want, but there is still something else you can do. You don’t always have to play the whole day. You can maybe go outside once in a while if you want, but not too often,” the young scoring sensation said.
“I’ll usually eat pretty quick so I can go back for (video games).”
But he never forsakes dinner out with his teammates because he’s plugged in.
“No, no, no, they’re always mandatory, but I usually leave pretty quickly so I can go back and play. No, no, that’s not the reason,” he said, grinning. “They’re fun events, those team dinners. I guess Vancouver is going to have lots of them, but good for them.”
If the Jets stumble to start the season, internal rules might have to be implemented, he said.
“We kind of made a deal that if we are playing like that, we can give up our PlayStations, not take them on the road,” Laine said. “But I don’t think that’s gonna happen.”
The two Western Conference squads hook up three times this season, the first on Oct. 18 at Bell MTS Place.
Jets head coach Paul Maurice said it’s a positive step each time players police themselves on internal matters.
“Good for them. You run your own room,” he said. “It’s always better when the players handle things that they need to. I don’t know how we would enforce that, anyway.”
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The Jets will have yet another first-round pick in their lineup tonight in St. Louis. Finnish-born forward Kristian Vesalainen, 19, makes his NHL debut against the Blues in the season opener.
“It is a big thing for me. I’ve been chasing this dream for a long time, and now it’s gonna happen, so I’m glad,” Vesalainen said Wednesday. “It’s been an honour to be here and be a part of this team, and it’s a huge thing for me.”
Winnipeg selected the 6-3, 207-pound winger from Helsinki with its first pick of the 2017 NHL entry draft in Chicago. His name was called 23 picks after first-overall selection Nico Hischier, who went to the New Jersey Devils, and two picks after the Edmonton Oilers grabbed Kailer Yamamoto.
Vesalainen, expected to play with centre Roslovic and Nikolaj Ehlers, anticipates feeling no butterflies in his inaugural game.
“If I’m in the lineup, I guess not, actually. I don’t like to be nervous. I know my skills and I know what I can do, so I don’t have anything to be nervous for,” he said. “It’s going to be a great game. It’s the thing I’ve been waiting for, so, hopefully I’m going to play. My goal is to stay on the team.”
Maurice said there were no free passes handed out during training camp and Vesalainen earned his way onto the opening-night roster.
“He’s capable of all the things that we want to do as a team, to look the way we want, play the game that we want, he’s capable. It’s not there every shift, it’s not there every pass up and down the ice, but it’s there enough that I know he picks things up quickly,” said Maurice, who cautioned: “Every single day, he has to give a reason to be in the lineup.”
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).