Winnipeg Jets: Would I Change Coaches? Yes

The urge is to suggest Claude Noel has an upper body injury.  Between his ears.

I’m not going to go there though.  I don’t think Noel is a “D’oh!” boy.  I think he’s an intelligent fellow.  But when the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets admits he doesn’t have a clue, well…it offers scant hope for, and little confidence in, a last-place club that began the season with two victories and has just three wins in its last 23 hockey games.


Coach Claude

Yes, I’m quite aware that the standings tell us the Jets have racked up 10 Ws, not just five, but winning a shootout and winning a hockey game are not two peas in a pod.  They are two different heads of lettuce.  The shootout is the National Hockey League’s way of disguising reality.  It’s camouflage.  It’s gimmickry.  It’s an ill-advised innovation that belongs on the soccer pitches of the world not in shinny shacks.  The true measure of any outfit is what it does in regulation/overtime when the boys are actually playing hockey and not engaged in a post-match penalty shot contest that has become one part skill and one part showboating.

So, you can look at five shootout successes and say the Jets’ glass is half full but there is no escaping the reality that the Noel-coached Winnipeg Jets have just five wins in 25 starts.

Just the other day, Noel was suggesting we all keep things in perspective.  I agree.  My perspective is the Jets have failed to win 20 of 25 games and 16 of which have been contested in the cozy confines of the Little Hockey House on the Prairie.  Yes, I realize that’s a glass-half-empty mindset.  Well, tsk-tsk me all you like but reality bites.  This is a results-driven business and the Jets don’t have the results to support the notion that happy days are in the offing.  And here’s what’s worrisome: The head coach doesn’t know what to do about it.

“It’s been like this for over two years”, he conceded on Friday.  “Why?  That’s the question.  Why?  Why are we not able to take gradual steps?  I’m trying to solve it.  I’m going to deal with it the best I can.  Am I always doing the right thing?  Who knows?”

Well, we know, Claude.  You aren’t always doing the right thing otherwise your team would have more than five victories in 25 assignments.

So, to whom do we look for an answer?  I suppose the Wizard of the Waiver Wire who generally manages the Jets would be the most logical candidate because we all know that Kevin Cheveldayoff has a plan.  We just don’t know if it’s a three, four, five or ten year plan.  We just know he has a plan.  And, he’s going to stick to that plan like glue to wallpaper because he’s convinced that Mark Scheifele will morph into Jonathan Toews one day.  And hey, the kid has already finished a couple of shifts without falling down this season so Chevy might be right.

In the meantime, there’s considerable gnashing of the teeth in Jets Nation.  The faithful figure they should be getting bigger bang for their buck.  The sticker price to watch a game at the local freeze is the second highest in the NHL thus five wins in 25 games just doesn’t cut it.  So they want Chevy to do something like fire a coach who, after close to 2 1/2 seasons, confesses he doesn’t know how to fix what’s broken.  Failing that, they want the GM to make an impact trade involving Evander Kane or Dustin Byfuglien.  Well, the braying of the rabble won’t influence Cheveldayoff into knee-jerkism.   He is, after all, the Wizard of the Waiver Wire.  Why make a significant move that would upgrade your team when you can dive into some other club’s dumpster and find yet another fourth-line winger or No. 7 defenceman?

Chevy will stay the course.  That’s what his bosses at True North Sports & Entertainment and their Loyal Lap Dog in the media say he should do so that’s what he’ll do.  Chevy will get his Jets into the playoffs when he’s good and ready and not a moment before then because he has a plan.

You know, all of this wouldn’t be so difficult to digest if there was a hint of progress.  But no.  As Noel submits, it’s been same old, same old for over two years.  Why is that?  He’s one of the reasons if not the main reason.

Noel chased Alexander Burmistrov home to Mother Russia.  He butts heads with Evander Kane.  He still doesn’t know what to do with Mark Scheifele.  He trash talks his players in public.  He apparently has his players draw straws to determine who plays with whom?  What am I missing?

Would I make a coaching change?  Yes.  Noel tells us he doesn’t have the answer so find someone who does.  I don’t think Cheveldayoff is prepared to go there though.  Not yet.  It probably isn’t part of his plan.

In a way, Chevy is the second coming of Mike Smith.  On the surface, of course, he seems like the anti-Smith.  Unlike the dishevelled Smith, Chevy dresses like he belongs on the cover of GQ magazine.  He’s extremely well groomed.  He doesn’t slur his words.  He doesn’t pal around with Russkies.  But Smith, you’ll recall, also had a plan while GM of the Winnipeg Jets.  It was to draft and sign every Boris, Igor and Vladimir on earth.  Chevy’s plan is to wear out the waiver wire until Scheifele tosses away his training wheels.

Did Smith’s plan work?  Nyet.  Is Chevy’s plan working?  Do the math.



  1. Mitch Kasprick says

    Coach Noel sounds like a confused beaten man sometimes … I believe a lot of this is on his shoulders but I have lost a ton of respect for certain players that are hanging him out to dry. I wish Chevy would put him out of his misery already. He seems like too nice of a guy to be put through this. I hope the coach that replaces him is a miserable SOB !!!

  2. Patti Dawn Swansson says

    They need somebody like Randy Carlyle, a real butt-kicker of a coach.

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