NEWS

Zajac excited for Winnipeg trip

Tuesday, 02.26.2013 / 4:00 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Zajac excited for Winnipeg trip


Travis Zajac
is looking forward to going home.

The centerman will play his first NHL game in his native Winnipeg on Thursday, when the Devils visit the Jets. Zajac, who grew up a Jets fan, missed both trips to Winnipeg last season while recovering from Achilles surgery.

For years, Zajac couldn't have envisioned even having a hometown team, much less facing them. After 17 seasons in Winnipeg, the original Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996 and became the Coyotes. It wasn't until 2011 that NHL hockey returned to Manitoba's capital when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated north of the border.

"Once they left, you thought they were gone for good," Zajac said Tuesday. "It was exciting to see them come back. Obviously, they have fantastic fan support there. They have a great ownership group which is key for them now and it sounds like they're going to be there for the long haul."

The franchise got its start in 1972 with World Hockey Association and found early success, winning three WHA titles. But after joining the NHL in 1979, the Jets would win just two playoff series before heading to Arizona.

Those struggles didn't stop Zajac from being a fan and collecting Jets jerseys.

"I had a few," he recalled. "I probably had a (Dale) Hawerchuk one… Thomas Steen. I just remember going to his hockey camps when I was younger in Winnipeg. That was kind of cool. I played with (St. Louis forward) Alex, his son, growing up. It was kind of cool to see those guys playing. I was a big (Teemu) Selanne fan, too, obviously."

Among Zajac's favorite Jets moments was Selanne scoring 76 goals in 1992-93 to set the single-season mark by a rookie. Almost as memorable was Selanne's celebration after breaking Mike Bossy's rookie record of 53.

"Throwing the glove up and shooting it was pretty cool," Zajac said. "I did that a lot growing up."

Zajac notched his fourth of the season on Sunday, snapping a four-game point drought. Centering Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, he's hoping to find his groove going forward.

"I thought we played pretty well," he said. "Obviously with Patty, there's a reason why he's one of the best players in the League. He just makes everyone around him better. Clarky's having a great season. He's great at turning pucks over and he's making plays, he's getting to the front of the net, he's doing a lot of good things. That's why he's having a lot of success this year.

"They're two guys that are easy to play with. They talk a lot; they make it easy. We'll see where that takes us."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 67 16 24 -2 40
M. Cammalleri 60 25 12 5 37
S. Gomez 50 7 24 -7 31
P. Elias 61 10 20 -16 30
S. Bernier 59 13 14 3 27
T. Zajac 66 11 12 -2 23
A. Larsson 56 3 19 3 22
A. Greene 74 3 17 5 20
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
E. Gelinas 54 6 11 -2 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 27 8 .928 2.19
K. Kinkaid 5 4 3 .919 2.42