If anyone on the Washington Capitals knows the deal about playing at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, it’s Eric Fehr. The big winger spent last season with the Jets and played 19 games at the arena on Portage Avenue.
“It’s a tough building to play in,” Fehr said. “It’s obviously exciting to play in. It’s going to be different playing on the other side, but it’s going to be a fun game.”
The Winkler, Manitoba, native will play his first game in Winnipeg as an opponent Saturday afternoon. Fehr, who had just two goals and one assist in an injury-plagued season with the Jets, already has four and three for the Caps this season.
“It feels great to be healthy again,” Fehr said. “Obviously last year I wasn’t feeling my best and it showed. So I want to show them what I can do definitely. I want to show them that that wasn’t what I was like last year, and if it helps our team win that would be great.”
The 27-year-old is trying to approach this like any other game, knowing full well it “doesn’t feel like” any other game.
“It’s interesting playing against guys from your old team, but you’ve got to keep hitting them and you’ve got to keep playing them like any other team,” Fehr said.
Fehr isn’t quite sure what response he’ll get from the crowd. This isn’t like Alexander Semin being back at Verizon Center after seven seasons with the Caps.
“I didn’t have my best year there last year so I don’t expect a whole lot,” he said. “But it’s an exciting time to be back and hopefully play a good game.”
Fehr has climbed the ladder this season, from healthy scratch to the fourth line, then the third, then the second. Given coach Adam Oates’ top-line left-wing-by-committee approach, it wouldn’t be a shock if Fehr ended up there soon.
A strong game in Winnipeg against his former team could earn Fehr that kind of promotion. He expects to have family, friends and some former coaches in attendance and likes to think that makes him play better.
“I like playing in front of my brothers and my parents and obviously people that have grown up with me and helped me so much along the way,” Fehr said. “I like to play for them and hopefully it will be a good opportunity for me.”