Winnipeg Jets: Time To Turn Off The Excuse Machine

Year Four for the Winnipeg Jets Should Finally be Normal —

Since the Winnipeg Jets return to River City in 2011, they really haven’t had one normal season.  For the sake of this article, let’s say the new season starts at the NHL Entry Draft and ends on the last night they play an actual hockey game.  In the first three seasons, it would have been the last regular season game since Jets 2.0 haven’t yet qualified for the post-season tournament aka the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Winnipeg Jets fans280

Winnipeg Jets were the hottest ticket in town!

Year one:

In year one, the team had the massive undertaking of relocating the franchise from Atlanta to Winnipeg.  No small feat but remarkably done.  This was probably something that for many years, TNSE had hoped and planned for.  

 

They needed to, or chose to hire an new G.M. and a new Coach.  TNSE hired new G.M. Kevin Cheveldayoff and new Head Coach Claude Noel.  

They needed to decide on a new name for the team which of course led to designing a new uniform and brand name.  The Winnipeg Jets name wasn’t announced to the world until the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota.  Their first ever draft pick, Mark Scheifele, had to have his draft day pictures taken with a generic NHL logo-ed jersey.  The new Jets jersey came later that summer.

The Winnipeg Jets didn’t have time to set up a development camp but did attend the “Young Stars” tournament in B.C.  They had a regular training camp and an eventful first season back in Winnipeg.  They missed the playoffs but the love affair was in full bloom.

Let’s say year one was an evaluation period for everybody.  The ownership, G.M. and coach needed to figure out what they had and didn’t have.  Excuse #1

Year two:

In year two, it looked like they were going to have a normal season with a development camp, the “Young Stars” tournament, a full training camp to evaluate the prospects, their free agent signings, and a normal NHL schedule. But once again, there was a little distraction called the “Lockout”.  Now, it was the same for every team but it was tough on this new organisation.  An inexperienced G.M. and Coach at the NHL level with no training camp and now forced into a compressed schedule after the lockout on a team that really didn’t have very much depth and a team looking for an identity.  This was not an ideal situation. Excuse #2.

The Winnipeg Jets were competitive in the weak Southeast Division but came up short again.  No playoffs.  The “Honeymoon” period is coming to an end.

Year three: 

In year three, everything was normal for the most part with the exception of this little nugget.  The Winnipeg Jets were now going to be competing in the uber tough Western Conference, in the even tougher Central Division.  Excuse #3.

The Winnipeg Jets were actually in a position to look like a better hockey team but, how could you tell playing in the Central Division?  Once again, a team with not much depth is playing a compressed schedule due to the Olympics in 2014. That means basically a game every other night.  Another recipe for disaster. Excuse #4.

The team didn’t get off to a great start in year three.  They were plagued by inconsistent goaltending.  They looked like a team in desperate need of an identity.  They looked like a team with no type of a noticeable defensive system. It looked like Claude Noel lost the room and he ultimately paid for it.  Excuse #5.

Enter, Paul Maurice.  Oh boy, another re-evaluation period!  Excuse #6.  He had an immediate impact on the team but they were too far behind to realistically make the playoffs but at least they showed Winnipeg hockey fans that there was a little meat on this bone.  Their lack of depth finally caught up to them and reared it’s ugly head when Mark Scheifele was injured just days before the NHL Trade Deadline.  Excuse #7.

Alas, no playoffs again!  The “Honeymoon” period is definitely over.

Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele (55). (Photo by Shawn Coates)

Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele.            Photo by Shawn Coates

Year four:

Heading into year four, the Winnipeg Jets have Paul Maurice locked up as their Head Coach.  They have four NHL Entry Drafts behind them.  They have had an abnormally long enough time to evaluate this roster.  This team has had more free evaluation periods than AVG anti-virus software.  Everybody knows where the deficiencies lie.  Or do they?  

The brain-trust has two more months to get this roster in order whether it be through trade, free agency, or promoting prospects.  They will have a full training camp with a veteran coach.  This will be their second year in the Western Conference.  They will play a normal NHL regular season schedule.

There are no more excuses.  It’s time to get this ship, or should I say, this Jet heading in the right direction.

In fairness to the Winnipeg Jets, they have never come out and used these excuses but they have been uttered many times on their behalf, in many places, by many people, and in different mediums.

It’s time to turn the excuse machine off and start making some tough decisions.  

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Comments

  1. Darryl Manchulenko says

    Excellent piece…very true that the built-in excuses are long gone. Time for results

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      thanks Manny …. results don’t necessarily have to mean playoffs this year but addressing the holes on this team and setting themselves up for success would be a step in the right direction.

  2. Terry Sharman says

    Another good piece, Mitch. Like that you pointed out the the organization hasn’t used these excuses, but this is definitely the season that improvement has to happen. Also agree that making the playoffs might not be a realistic measuring stick, but we have to see a more competitive team night in and night out. We can’t have streaky players at this point. I expect 100% effort each & every night under Maurice. If not, then make room on the roster for some of our youth!

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      Thanks Terry … for the 1st time in 4 years the coach actually has some leverage ….. Maurice can now bring a couple kids up from St. John’s … ice-time must be earned.

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