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Blasts from the Past

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One on One with Paul MacLean
by Kathy Johnson

This summer when the Jets made a deal with St. Louis for Markell and Campbell they came out with 3 players. One of those players was an unknown winger named Paul MacLean, who has spent his time on St. Louis' farm team, and the Canadian Olympic team (along with Tim Watters, Don Spring and Tom Watt as coach). He surprised many people who saw him and a nice surprise at that. Paul adds a needed size and strength to the Jets forward line.

Q. How have you enjoyed playing for the Jets so far?

A. It's a lot of fun in the NHL which is something I've always looked forward to. The Jets are an up and coming team, their young and I'm really enjoying being a part of it.

Q. Have you found a great difference between University, Olympic, International and NHL play?

A. The difference is mostly between the Olympics and the NHL. There is more motion with the bigger ice surface in European hockey. As far as the speed of the game the NHL is faster than the European game and tougher. It's the real thing in the NHL. It's got everything, the hitting, the checking and the best players.

Q. How did you like playing for the Canadian National Team?

A. It was a great experience. For me it was a chance to play for my country which not too many people get to do and I learned an awful lot in that short time. As far as my hockey skills were concerned I improved an awful lot.

Q. What do you think of what happened against Pittsburgh?

A. Well, I think it could have been done a little differently, but something had to be done. Gardner could not get away with doing what he did to Doug. Maybe we could've done it in a better way but it had to be done.

Q. How do you like Tom Watt for a coach?

A. He's an excellent coach. Very positive about everything he does. His practices are well organized, he makes it fun to come to the rink to play. Which makes a big difference for everybody when you're trying to play this game. You have to have fun or it would become boring and a humdrum type of lifestyle. Tommy makes it interesting and makes it fun to come to the rink.

Q. What do you think of Watt's practices?

A. They are excellent, well organized, everything runs smooth and we're always moving. He has different approaches to it. You haven't got the skating back and forth for 1/2 hour. His practices incorporate everything, the skating, stick handling, all the basics of the game.

Q. What do you think of Winnipeg fans?

A. They are great fans. I think excellent fans. Some nights they are like any other fans, if you're not playing well they boo, if you play well they cheer you. All in all they're excellent fans. They supported this team last year through all their problems and now this year they get to see a better club and I think they deserve it. The turnouts have been good and the team responds to a full house.

Q. Were you surprised to be traded?

A. I was a little surprised. I had gotten the indication there was a future in St. Louis for me though not right away. So when the trade came to Winnipeg I was glad and came and played in the NHL right away.

Q. How do you enjoy playing with Hawerchuk?

A. Well, who wouldn't want to play with Dale. He has tons of talent and he knows what to do with the puck. I'm just starting now to get to know him and what he does on the ice in certain situations and things are starting to fall into place right now for our line.

Q. You started off this season hitting then stopped and now you've started again, any particular reason?

A. I was working hard at first then I started to try and play like Dale I just can't play that way. I'd get into kind of a juggling match as to which way I should play. I was just trying to handle the puck in certain ways to complement Dale. Then I realized after talking with the coaches the best way to do that is to go out and play my game. So now that's what I'm going to do for the rest of the year. Hopkins and myself look after the corners and play wide giving Dale room to maneuver.

Q. Any particular reason you stayed with hockey?

A. To me it's a lot of fun. It's something I've always wanted to do since I was old enough to watch t.v. and play on outdoor ponds. It's a good way to make a living an honest way. You go out and work hard, and it's a very rewarding sport and the people you meet are fantastic, well most of them any way.

Q. Why University over Junior hockey?

A. I did play one year of Junior. I was 19 at the time. I was drafted by the St. Louis Blues after that year. Then I went to University after St. Louis's training camp. The reason I went back to University was they didn't offer me the contract I wanted. I just thought I'd go back to university and try for the Canadian Olympic team. I thought it was the best move for me at that time and it turned out to be the best thing I've ever done.

Q. Savard has been helping the defense, has he helped the forwards as well?

A. He always talks to you and gives you a little encouragement. He will tell you if you should come down deeper or stay out farther. He just helps everyone with his presence. When he's on the ice you want to work hard because he's there. You don't want to make any mistakes. He's really helped the whole team in the month he's been here and it's going to get better.