Bittersweet Goodbye

Wheelerj28
April 09 2014 11:20AM

My tenth season as the in-game announcer for the Winnipeg Jets (and Manitoba Moose) under the True North banner; tonights game will be my last.  Tonight marks the end of a journey that I began shortly after I moved the city of Winnipeg.  I was doing the ring announcing for ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, Lalonde vs. Hill at (then) Canwest Park.  I was approached by Kyle Balharry to audition for the vacant PA announcers job for the upcoming Manitoba Moose hockey season.  After losing out to Jay Richardson, the current PA announcer, I had asked if they were holding auditions for their in-game announcer.  I was informed that there was no in-game announcer due to budget restraints, and that they use their current ‘Moosekateers’ to do the contesting.  I offered my services for free, as I had done so for the Lloydminster Blazers of the AJHL and the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL in years past.

WheelerMoose

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2014 Juno Cup #2

Wheelerj28
March 31 2014 09:18AM

JunoCupWinners

(Jim Cuddy 'Blue Rodeo' and Ab McDonald hold up the 'Juno Cup')

In the 11 years of the Juno Cup tradition, the team of Musicians have only managed to sneak away with one win.  March 28th was not one of those wins, the team of NHLers won the annual game 9-8 in front of almost 1000 fans at the MTS Iceplex.  Host of TSN's 'Off The Record' Michael Landsberg hosted the game and did everything he could to put extra points of the board for the Rockers throughout the game, and even with the likes of Mark Schieffle, Grant Clitsome and James Wright behind the bench for the rockers, we couldn't find a way to win.

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2014 Juno Cup

Wheelerj28
March 28 2014 09:56AM

cup

The 11th annual Juno Cup hockey game between the Juno nominated Rockers and NHL Greats takes place tonight at MTS Centre Ice Plex at 7:30.  Names like Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo and Colin MacDonald from The Trews will be in attendance. I will be suiting up for The Rockers against a stacked team of names like Carey Wilson (Flames, Rangers), 3-time Stanley Cup Winner Mike Keane (Stars, Habs, Avs), Trevor Kidd (Flames, Leafs, Canes, Panthers).  The odds are a little in the favor of the Greats, if you have a look at the entire roster.  But I swear to God, if they challenged the Rockers in a Karaoke competition, well… I think we know who would win that one.

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Are We Dating?!? Or...?!?!

Wheelerj28
March 27 2014 04:30AM

ThatAwkwardMoment


The Winnipeg Jets and Paul Maurice remind me of my early 20’s when you go out with a girl a few times, and aren’t sure how to introduce each other when you bump into someone you know.  Without coming out and saying it, they’re going through that awkward, ‘We’re just seeing each other stage’ in their relationship.  Neither side has committed past this season, which makes the sex is probably pretty good, but only because you know you might be able to get a little action on the side without having to feel guilty about it.  The question is, is the sex good enough from either side to make that commitment?

As it stands, there is no contract for Paul Maurice to return as bench boss for the Jets next season, he himself has stated that he wants to make sure it’s the right fit for him, and for his family before he signs on long term.  For the Jets, was it just a band aid to appease the fans that were calling for coach Noel’s head on a platter, ‘cause if they were willing to hold out until the end of the season, there would be a few candidates that I know the fans and the brass would be interested in pursuing.

Think of coaches like a song you really love, y’know the one that you add to every playlist you make.  You listen to that song until you know every note and lyric inside and out and could sing the entire thing in the shower without fail.  That song eventually loses its luster a little, and although you get excited the odd time it pops up when you hit ‘shuffle’, you’re not committing to listening to it at nauseam anymore.  Its message has lost its meaning to you, and although you can still hum along to it when you hear it, you’re not belting it out at the top of your lungs when you’re in the car with the windows rolled up.  Coaches are the same way to the players, a new message in the locker room, with new practice techniques and systems and exciting for the players, it’s a change up from the monotony of the predecessors, and can lift a team to unexpected heights… for a time.  Some messages from coaches, like songs, can wear out quick, while other have a longer shelf life.

Claude Noel = Ylvis - What Does The Fox Say?

Funny for a week or so, but then everyone realizes it’s a funny song, and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Paul Maurice = Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball

Hits #1 on the pop charts, can’t get enough of it… Then everyone realizes it’s Miley Cyrus, and quickly denies ever liking the song.

See where I’m going with this?  The Jets need a bench boss that’s closer to a Pink Floyd, or an Alanis Morissette (obligatory Canadian Content mention), who spend YEARS, sometimes DECADES on the charts. 

Enter Barry Trotz.  He’s been coach of the Nashville Predators since 1998, he’s the only coach The Preds have ever seen behind the bench… and he’s at risk of losing his job this year.  There’s been no speculation on this topic, but the writing is on the wall.  Coach for 16 years, has made the playoffs in 7 of those years, and from the looks of it, will miss the playoffs for the 2nd consecutive season.  But if The Jets are looking for guy who’s message is going to last more than a couple seasons, this is the guy.  Did I mention he’s a born and bred Manitoban (Dauphin).

Trotz-Kitty

How about goold ‘ol former Jet, Randy Carlyle?  It seems to be the Leafs M.O. to swap coaches after missing playoffs a couple years in a row, so why wouldn’t we bring back a former Moose (and Jets) alum to (once again) appease the fans with a familiar face from the Jets 1.0?  I realize you can’t put the entire blame on Kitty for the Leafs collapse in the playoffs last year, or this year heading towards the post season, but the Leafs brass like to shoot first and hire someone later.  Could be an option for the Jets if they pull the trigger on letting him loose on his contract, plus we know Dave Nonis likes to fire people to cover up his inadequacies.

But, when it’s all said and done, the sex might be good enough for Maurice and Jets to sign an initial contract to stay behind the bench, but don’t look for that to happen until after the Cup had been handed out and before the draft, Chevy and Zinger might be thinking the same things I am?!?  Maybe?!?  At least we don’t have a coach who yells at his players for ruining a new custom suit.


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The Jets Suck?!?!?

Wheelerj28
March 25 2014 05:51AM

JetCrash


I'm tired of people saying that the Winnipeg Jets haven't gotten any better since last season.  The brass for the Jets since the get-go have stated that this team is going to build through the draft, and build a team reminiscent of The Pittsburgh Penguins and The Chicago Blackhawks.  Chevy being the former Asst. GM for the Hawks and working under Scotty and Stan Bowman, it's believable that he may have picked up a habit or two from these two brilliant minds.  Sure, the Pens hit the jackpot with Crosby and Malkin in back to back years, and Hawks didn't do too shabby with local boy Johnny Toews and Patrick Kane in their own draft.  Looking at the Jets draft history thus far, names like Schieffle and Trouba, although superstars in their own right, won't have the opportunity to shine in the league until they hit the post season, and the rest of the NHL gets to see them test their metal.  If only every team (especially ours) had a european scouting staff like the Red Wings, who don't even take their feet off the table at the draft until the 4th round.  With the latest landscape in the Western Conference, it's hard to think that the Jets are making it promise land this year, to add 3 years in a row that the franchise will be looked upon as a disappointment in the history books.

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