The Legends of the Fall: Winnipeg Jets Are Back

Thoughts on the Winnipeg Jets –  

Hockey fans have arisen from the dog days of summer with great anticipation that the Winnipeg Jets will be dropping the puck on a new season.  The pundits, bloggers and media alike have begun the transition of critiquing moves made or not made since the end of another non-playoff season to which players will make on the Winnipeg Jets “Opening Day Roster” in three weeks.  The lack of new news and the rehashing of the old news since July had me and others making numerous trips to the walk-in clinic for a bad case of nausea.

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                 Paul Maurice   photo by Shawn Coates

The “Puddle Jumpers” have been hard at it since August with the Development Camp and most recently the “Young Stars Classic” event in Penticton, B.C.  Clearly, there is lots to be thankful and excited about.  In the spirit of D&D (draft and development) some of the young players such as Nik Ehlers, Scott Kosmachuk, Nic Petan, Josh Morrissey, and Adam Lowry all are examples where optimism should be at its highest since the Winnipeg Jets returned to this fine city.  At the “Young Stars” event, the highly skilled play of Petan and Ehlers are clear upgrades as this team moves forward.

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    Nikolaj Ehlers    photo by  Rick Fritschy

So what of these “Young Stars”?  Much has been made over the last week of what impact these players will make in training camp and where they ultimately will start their seasons.  Not unlike others, I too have thoughts on who should or shouldn’t make the team this year.  However, none of us have a hot clue what Kevin Cheveldayoff was thinking this summer largely because he didn’t say anything we could understand which was another cause of my weak stomach only in that a little frankness would have been refreshing.  This article is not intended to drive a stake through any one player, coach or general manager rather it’s intended to be somewhat positive yet highlighting some “team” related matters that could make a difference.

I think it’s important to highlight a very important matter.  The Playoffs.  Nope.  Not a chance.  Don’t even say the word.  Don’t tell me it’s always the goal and anything else is unacceptable.  Breaking News Winnipeg Jets fans …. the NHL is hard, very hard, where only 16 of 30 teams make it.  Some of you might say, “I’d take that 50/50 bet” while I’d tend to think, in reality, the odds might as well be 4:1 you don’t make the playoffs.  Why 20% chance of getting in?  There’s been much ado about a certain goalie’s save percentage, the teams divisional record, the team’s goal differential, team consistency and whether players are playing out of position.  Not naming names or anything.  Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles don’t have these issues and if the expectation is you can fix all of those things in one year by bringing players with great advance stats, character, or skill you are sadly mistaken.  NHL hockey is not the Canadian Football League where change can be swift (Go Bombers Go) yet is often slower and more deliberate.  Do I want to see the Winnipeg Jets extend their season?  (see, I didn’t say ‘the word’)  Absolutely!  However, so do 29 other teams.

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         Ondrej Pavelec   photo by Shawn Coates

I still maintain that “D&D” is not the only way to build a team as “Free Agent” signings and trades MUST be a part of the mix.  The Winnipeg Jets organization is learning as are its players.  I also believe that a change in personalities will go a long way in changing the results because a coach alone can’t do it.  A goalie’s save percentage by itself won’t do it.  Six more goals in one-goal games won’t do it.  Winning an extra defensive zone face-off and a stronger commitment to defense onto itself may not do it either.  The word chemistry comes to mind and that is one thing we arguably don’t have. When the Winnipeg Jets get it, then we can conceivably see all the key stats improve.  Before everyone says I’m off my rocker, let me just say the focus of this team cannot be about making it into April (oops I did it again) but should be about finding a consistently high level of hockey, doing the right things over and over again, and the players who are committed to that cause.

In my mind, one way of getting people’s attention is having a rookie make the squad and give the group a jump.  I maintain to this day is was a brilliant decision by all those involved in the Montreal Canadiens organization to put Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher together and let them figure it out.  It may not work for all players but that line with Lars Eller gave that team consistency, edginess, and spirit something the Winnipeg Jets could benefit from.  What does this team have to lose really?  Another 82 game season? (see I’m getting good at this)

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         Nic Petan and Nik Ehlers   photo by Rick Fritschy

The reality of the situation is players such as Josh Morrissey and Nik Ehlers will find themselves back with their CHL teams prior to the start of the season or after playing a few games.  We have all seen or heard about teams with losing records by the middle of November simply don’t make up the ground lost.  The Central Division is the toughest in the NHL and may have gotten tougher given the additions many teams made.  What does this all mean you ask?  A quick start is imperative while the top teams find their groove.  Let’s catch them sleeping I say!  That said, that doesn’t make it easy for the rookies coming into camp as Paul Maurice will not want to repeat the loose camp and slow start Claude Noel guided this team through last September and October.

Let’s hope a new trend develops where “The Legends of the Fall” represents October success and not just another opportunity lost to level out the steep climb they have always found themselves facing.  Go Jets Go!

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Comments

  1. enjoyed the article, agree wholeheartedly about chemistry and work ethic in the systems implemented. and we need to continue to grow and everyone to buy into the direction of our coaches and their philosophies .
    vern recently posted…The Legends of the Fall: Winnipeg Jets Are BackMy Profile

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