The former first-round selection of the San Jose Sharks back in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Setoguchi has been traded to the Minnesota Wild back in 2011 and learned while attending a friend’s wedding back in early July that he had been traded to the Jets for a second-round selection in 2014.
Coupled with the lockout-shortened season of 2012-2013, salary caps and long-term visions of franchises, it has been a year of transition for Setoguchi.
“It is what it is. You get traded and it’s just something you have to deal with. It’s not really life changing, at the end of the day, you are still doing something you love to do and it’s your job,” said Setoguchi on Sunday during opening day of the Verset Hockey Camp at the Taber Arena.
“It’s not like I’m going to a place where they don’t know what hockey is. I’ve been around the league long enough now that I understand most of it anyway now.”
Indeed, Winnipeg is very much a market that knows what hockey is. Winnipeg finally got a franchise back after leaving in 1996 as the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg in 2011. Season tickets opened to the general public in early June of that year and sold out in just 17 minutes. Sellouts are locked in for the foreseeable future for the next five years.
“To say it is a passion there is an understatement. Minnesota was good, but I don’t think people really understand what hockey means to Winnipeg,” said Setoguchi. “You play for that crowd and with how fans know the game, overall, it’s going to be a bit of pressure, but be a lot of fun. The roof gets blown off ever game, but I can’t imagine what it’d be like if we made the playoffs with how loud it would be.”
It is easy to just see the millions of dollars NHL players make, but there are the friendships that are made along the way with the camaraderie built among teammates which Setoguchi made with his time in San Jose and Minnesota so there is always that transition when playing with a team for the first time.
“It’s tough. But, the hockey community is a pretty tight group. You make friends with guys you play with and against. You make new friends, but you keep the old ones and still keep in touch. That’s the way it goes,” said Setoguchi who will be donning the number 40 this season for the Jets.
Coming down the home stretch to training camp for the 2013-2014- NHL season, early visions among hockey insiders has Setoguchi slated into riding shotgun on the right wing with the second line with left winger Evander Kane and either veteran centre Olli Jokinen or up and comer Mark Scheifele. Jets’ management threw a lot of money into long-term contracts to keep the chemistry going of top line Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler together this offseason. Setoguchi is simply keeping the mindset of having a solid training camp and letting the chips fall where they may as Setoguchi enters the last year of his current three-year contract.
“I want to go in and play my game and do what I can do and do what I can control. That’s basically the goal, to play well,” said Setoguchi. “You can’t read into things too much. Camp hasn’t even started. You can go through camp and maybe they find you’re a better fit somewhere else.”