WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets returned to the ice at Bell MTS Place on Monday for the first time since COVID-19 brought the 2019-20 NHL season to a halt.

With half the team dressed in road-white uniforms and the other in home-blue, the last scrimmage before Thursday’s home opener was the first hockey played at the downtown rink since March 9 when the Jets came from behind to beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-2.

“I was looking around today, it was the first time I’ve been on this ice in like 10 months, so it was definitely kind of eye-opening for sure," said Jets Forward Andrew Copp, who also served on the return to play committee.

The environment looks much different than it did 10 months ago, with most of the lower bowl covered in blue tarp, displaying the Jets logo on each side of centre ice and behind both nets.

Aside from the advertisements crews were still working on applying to the seat coverings during practice, it likely won’t feel much different when the Jets open the season on Thursday against the Calgary Flames.

Winnipeg Jets training camp

The Winnipeg Jets run drills during their NHL training camp in Winnipeg, Monday, January 11, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

“We know our fan base will be watching closely, not as close as we would like, but it was definitely nice to get out in a game today and get a feel for it. Obviously, it’s not going to be the same,” said Jets Defenceman Nathan Beaulieu.

“This is a passionate city, so I think we will feel (the fans) from the outside in.”


The Jets also made some roster moves on Monday, placing five players on waivers, including veteran winger Mathieu Perreault.

Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice told reporters the move was entirely salary cap driven and doesn’t necessarily mean Perreault is completely off the roster unless he’s claimed by another team.

“This is wholly and completely a cap compliance issue, the details of which I’ll have to leave to somebody who understands those details better, but we have to be at a certain place for opening day,” Maurice said.

“There is always the chance that Mathieu (Perreault) could get claimed on waivers. If he doesn’t, nothing changes in terms of his ability to be in the lineup opening night.”

Nelson Nogier, Luca Sbisa and C.J. Suess were also placed on waivers Monday. Once cleared, they will be eligible to serve on Winnipeg’s taxi squad which needs to be submitted to the league, along with the 23-man roster, by Tuesday.

Maurice also hinted at a highly touted prospect, Ville Heinola, joining the taxi squad reserve.


Later in the day, Winnipeg announced the reassignment of seven players to the Manitoba Moose, including goalie Mikhail Berdin, defencemen Declan Chisol, Luke Green and Jonathan Kovacevic as well as forwards Joona Luoto, Skyler McKenzie and Kristian Reichel.

Goaltender Cole Kehler of Altona, Man., and defenceman Jimmy Oligny were released from their professional tryouts.


Maurice said Monday’s scrimmage marked the end of training camp, so to speak, as the team shifts to ‘in-season’ mode with just two practices left before opening the regular season at home against the Flames on Thursday.