Is There A White Elephant In The Winnipeg Jets Dressing Room?

Winnipeg Jets Pre-season Record Is 1-3-2 !!! —

Over the last few years we have heard how the Winnipeg Jets really haven’t had a normal training camp and that this year would be different.We continued to hear that this training camp would allow the team to work on its special teams, generate continuity with its players, improve its goal differential, and to see how its young crop of talent has developed.  Strategically, the Jets decided to add to a couple of extra games to their preseason schedule to help the evaluation process.  With two games to go how would you evaluate the progression on these matters?

Kevin Cheveldayoff spent an entire off-season selling Winnipeg to its RFA’s and brought in, via trade, Devin Setoguchi to help make the second line more productive, and Michael Frolik to add depth to the third line.  Those moves were intended to give Claude Noel a few more tools to improve the offense and team defense across all four lines.  Coach Claude has taken a very calculated and methodical approach to this camp.  The young players and farm hands all have been given plenty of time to showcase their talents. It can be argued that they have been given too much time.  The extra preseason games taken on now are working against the team as it tries to get ready for the Season Opener.

Winnipeg Jets Head Coach Claude Noel addressing the local media

Winnipeg Jets Head Coach Claude Noel addressing the local media

It almost seems like Coach Claude has its young players scared to make mistakes.  It’s one thing to try and take the pressure of the players but in preseason they need to know its okay to go play their game.  Mark Scheifele arguably has not had a great camp but he hasn’t been bad either.  I’ve felt his development history suggested he requires time in AHL but over the course of the preseason I’m not so sure he was handled the right way in that he has not been given the chance to play his game.

The post-mortem on the Edmonton game has focused on the lack of power play productivity, do the Winnipeg Jets have the Elite talent to quarterback a power play, and the like.  Some pundits have suggested they had expected the lineup to reflect the opening day lineup but really haven’t come out and expanded on the the key issue.  We have all talked at length about whether the team has enough talent to make the playoffs.  We seem to have a reasonable answer to that question but maybe we should be talking more about the suitability of the coaching staff to get us into the playoffs.  It would seem Coach Huddy has done his job in getting Zach Bogosian to another level.  When it comes to the power play and penalty kill units the coaching has been less than average.  You only have to look at the last two seasons results to see that the systems they employ aren’t working and that’s what coaching is all about – implementing systems that get the most out of the players and team you have in front of you.

The post game comments from Coach Claude were dumbfounding.  Here’s a few tidbits from Coach Claude post game comments, “powerplay lacked cohesiveness”, “didn’t move the puck well”, and “didn’t generate much offense”.  It certainly comes as no surprise as the team lack cohesiveness on their lines.  In fact at one point, when asked about getting the regulars into the lineup for the last two games, he said that some players haven’t played together yet.  In the context of the question his answer is very telling on how this camp has gone and that a slow start is almost a foregone conclusion.

Through six games the Winnipeg Jets have scored 12 goals and given up 16. The Top 6 forwards have scored three goals (two from Kane and one from Little), the bottom six forwards and rookies have contributed 8 goals, and the defense have kicked in with one goal thus far.  Clearly the team has given more opportunities for the bottom six group and bottom half of the defensive corp to play at the risk of your best players getting ready to be the best players by opening day.  The evaluation period should have been completed two games ago.  It’s great, if not essential, to foster a competitive camp each year but at some point you need to place your bet and get ready for the race.

This Winnipeg Jets Training Camp, with two games left, still remains cloudy as to whether the team and systems issues have been resolved.  That responsibility rests solely on the shoulders of Coach Claude and left to Chevy to deal with this November if the team is losing more than its fair share of games because it didn’t hit the road running on opening day.



  1. Noel is a coach that should and probably will be fired by the Olympics!

  2. Mitch Kasprick says

    Claude Noel is on the clock. I think he gets a gimmee on the pre-season but once the regular season starts, all bets are off. The top 2 priorities should be “team defence” and “special teams” and if they don’t improve this team has no chance at making the play-offs.

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