Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Jets Goalie Steve Mason Says There's a Lot to Be Excited About

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Jets Goalie Steve Mason Says There's a Lot to Be Excited About

Article excerpt

Mason says there's a lot to be excited about

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WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets are hoping veteran goaltender Steve Mason can help accomplish two things with his new team: fix the current issues in net, and help the franchise's future in the crease by mentoring a young teammate.

Defensive struggles dominated the off-season conversation in Winnipeg, sparking general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to sign Mason to a US$8.2-million, two-year contract when free agency opened in July.

"You look at the roster and there's lots to be excited about," Mason said Friday on the opening day of camp. "I think everybody here's on the same page, realizing in the last number of years it hasn't been good enough, but we're right on the cusp of becoming a team that can be a consistent contender."

While Mason is expected to handle the majority of the workload and serve as the Jets' No. 1 netminder this season, head coach Paul Maurice is hoping the 29-year-old veteran can also work with 24-year-old Connor Hellebuyck.

"It was part of the conversation prior to the signing that, in getting to know (Mason's) personality, that he would be willing and able to (mentor Hellebuyck)," said Maurice. "To make sure the relationship between the two goaltenders in the room (is strong) and he would have a willingness to work with someone. Connor's feeling the same way.

"He wants to fight for that job as well, so it's a really healthy competition."

The Jets can definitely score, finishing seventh in the NHL last season with an average of 3.00 goals per game. But Winnipeg was 27th in the league in goals against last season.

Consistent struggles plagued Hellebuyck during his sophomore campaign. Hellebuyck signed a one-year deal worth $2.25 million in the off-season after posting a 26-19-4 mark with a .907 save percentage and 2.89 goals-against average.

"Connor and I have gotten to know each other over the last two weeks of being here," said Mason, who spent the last four-plus seasons with Philadelphia. …

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