Mark Scheifele embracing new found prominence

By HF Staff
Photo: Mark Scheifele (far left) has seen his status in the hockey world rise dramatically since being made the first pick of the new Winnipeg Jets. (Photo courtesy of Ian Altenbaugh/HF)

Mark Scheifele (WPG) entered the 2010-11 season as a seventh rounder, bound to the OHL cellar with the Barrie Colts. A couple months later things have dramatically turned around for the tall playmaking center, turning his seventh round selection in the OHL into a seventh overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Scheifele took some time off a busy off-season work out schedule to speak with Hockey’s Future about his future and what it means to be the first draft pick of the resurrected Winnipeg Jets.

Hockey’s Future: How’s your summer been going Mark?

Mark Scheifele: It’s been really good. I’ve been able to get into the gym a lot. I’ve been able to get out skating and I’ve been doing power-skating this summer as well. So, it’s definitely been a whirlwind but it’s been exciting just to get drafted to Winnipeg. I’ve been working hard, giving it my all every workout, every skate, every time I’m working on my game. I’m just trying to get better, get stronger, and improve my game.

HF: So that’s the focus, just getting bigger and stronger in the hopes of facing off against bigger and tougher players?

MS: Yeah, that’s exactly it. I want to be ready to play in Winnipeg next year. People are telling me it’s not going to happen but I have always tried to prove people wrong like getting drafted in the seventh round and being here now. I’ve always tried to work my hardest, and try to show that I am the real deal and that I can play. So it is my goal to get a lot stronger and faster and get prepared to play against older and stronger guys.

HF: What’s it like to be the first Winnipeg Jet?

MS: It’s unreal. I get chirped though. I know Ryan Strome always chirps me about going to Winnipeg and not even having a jersey. But it’s fun to go to an organization that’s just getting back into it and going back into an organization that is so excited to have a team back. It’s inspiring. It’s going to push me to play my best. It’s exciting to go to a place like that.

HF: On the note of the jersey, what do you think of the Winnipeg Jets logo?

MS: I love it. I think it’s a really good logo. Some people tell me it’s dull, but I think it is great. It has a lot of symbolism to it and it has a good look to it to. I love it.

HF: Have you been able to get a sneak peek at the new jersey?

MS: No, I haven’t been able to see that. I want to see it soon, but I don’t think anyone has.

HF: Do you have a favorite Jet? I understand your coach (Dale Hawerchuck) is a former Jet?

MS: I don’t know much about the Jets. I know Dale played for them, but I don’t have a favorite player. I didn’t really know anything about hockey when they were around. It would probably be Dale because he is the only one I know.

HF: So tell me about Dale, has he had any tips about playing and living in Winnipeg?

MS: He said that the fans will know your face. It will be hard to walk around town, or get groceries without getting noticed. So, keep a low profile and just be a good kid. He said I shouldn’t have any trouble because I try and stay out of trouble and keep out of bad things. He said just stay out of trouble and don’t get caught.

HF: So your game plan is to play in Winnipeg this year. If you do get sent back to Barrie is that something you’ll embrace?

MS: Yeah, I’ll embrace anywhere I play. It’s playing hockey, it’s something I love to do. I just want to play at the highest level for me to develop, if it’s here or Winnipeg. I just want to play on a team and play hard and have the team succeed. That’s the main goal. I’m a big believer in winning, I hate to lose. It was tough last year, but I like to be on a winning team and be a big part of that team. I’ll embrace anywhere.

HF: Things might be looking up in Barrie with the drafting of Aaron Ekblad. Have you met him or …strategized with him?

MS: No, I called him after the draft and texted him a few times, just kind of getting to know him. It is exciting to have him. Any player with exceptional status will be a great player. He will be a big part of our team, I have heard great things, and I am excited to see him play.

HF: Now onto your game, is there a player you model yourself after?

MS: It’s probably a Joe Thornton type player. I am a playmaking center who likes to use his body and protects the puck. I have a little Datsyuk in me too, with my creativity and two-way play. So a mix between those two players.

HF: Is there a player you’re looking forward to playing with in Winnipeg?

MS: I’ve looked over the roster a few times, so maybe Evander Kane. If I got to center him once or twice that would be unreal. Or maybe if Bryan Little played on my wing. I got to play with him at a charity game and he was unreal to play with. Anyone you play with in that league can put the puck in the net. You just got to find chemistry.

HF: Did you find any chemistry with him in the charity game?

MS: Yeah, he set me up for 5 goals, he is an unreal player. Maybe we had a little chemistry in the first time playing together.

So what’s next? Are you planning on taking a little time off?

MS: I will be at the grind stone for the rest of the summer. I have workouts all week. I have weekends off. I have a pro-skate in Waterloo for the next two weeks so I will be working out everyday. I just want to come in ready. Weekends are a good rest for me, everyone says rest is just as good as working out so I use those weekends just to rest up and get my legs and body back to working hard and feeling good. I will be working out and working hard everyday.

HF: When does camp open up in Winnipeg?

MS: The 9th of September.

HF: Are you hoping to get into some pre-season games?

MS: I hope so, I know I’ll be at the rookie tournament in Penticton. I think I am in that but I want to get into some pre-season games as well. I just want to get the atmosphere. I want to have a good camp and I want to work my hardest and I just want to play my game and do what got me there.

HF: You were drafted a bit higher than some people thought. Were you tipped off?

MS: It was a total surprise. They asked how to pronounce my last name which was the only thing that maybe tipped me off. I had no idea, it was a total surprise. I was just hoping to go in the first round. That was my goal. To go seventh (overall) was unreal. Ryan Murphy (CAR) was chirping me because I screwed up the draft, he was hoping to go top 10. It was kind of funny to go that high. There are always people going up and down so for me to go up is just exciting to see. I was just happy to see my hard work pay off.

HF: Any other players chirping you about going so high?

MS: I don’t know, me and Murphy are good buddies, so it was just a jokingly chirp. All the boys kind of chirp at each other about who they get drafted by.

HF: Do you see yourself as a first line center someday for the Winnipeg Jets?

MS: Yeah, that is my main goal. I think I can be a first line center for the Winnipeg Jets. It’s definitely tough to do but I am willing to put in the hard work and sacrifice to make it there. I just want to be able to show what I can do and just kind of work my way up because I will be one of those guys who will work their hardest at all points. Dale always told me, that’s the thing about a team, you got to work your way up and improve every game so you can reach the top.

HF: Best of luck to you Mark.

MS: Thank you.

Interview was conducted and transcribed by Keith Holland.