January 11 2013 06:18PM
With the NHL back and the Winnipeg Jets about to reconvene at and take over the MTS Centre this winter, the team we saw leave the ice last April will have some additions, subtractions, and some new faces that are rookie fresh.
Since we haven't had any Jets news for nearly four months, let's reintroduce fans and mix and match our Winnipeg Jets for 2013.
January 11 2013 09:24AM
If the headline isn't enough to raise a few eyebrows as to what Winnipeg's hockey-lovin', blue-collar fans think about Evander Kane and his superstar ways, check out the poll at the bottom of the page. Having worked our way through the "uncoachable" meme from about a month ago, it's onto the next ridiculous bit of criticism of Kane, who is, to be clear, the only player who scored 30 goals last year below the age of 21. He is also, along with Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal, are the only players to score 60 or more times before turning 21 since the lost season.
Head to Twitter and pump in Evander Kane's name. You will find dozens of tweets from outside Winnipeg defending Kane from the attacks he takes within the Winnipeg media. I'm sure Evander, who is named after a boxer and once took out Matt Cooke with a single punch, doesn't need our help. The "trending article" is a Winnipeg Sun 200-word screwjob with the teaser "Where's Evander?" and tagline "Jets forward a no-show on the ice."
Credit to the Sun on this one, for at least publishing a single paragraph that is more than four lines of text long. Unfortunately, no graf is longer than two sentences. Here's the meat of the piece:
It’s a question on the tip of a few tongues around Winnipeg this week. All but four members of the Jets have returned to Winnipeg to skate informally with their teammates, but Evander Kane isn’t one of them.
"a few tongues around Winnipeg" could mean anything from 'Jets teammates returning from their lockout haunts, hoping that their best scorer is going to be back' to 'racist disc jockeys waiting to pounce on the next non-story'. "a few tongues" is the saving grace for the writer or reporter who asks a player in scrums "some people around town have suggested..." when both the player and reporter know perfectly well the people around town suggesting the player did awful things is the reporter himself.
And to some people, that's okay, because at least the reporter is facing his target of criticism. Of course, if you walked up to Evander Kane and prefaced a question with "some people around town suggest that you're awful, you hate Winnipeg, and you don't try," Kane's more-than-appropriate reaction would not only be the focus of the ensuing commentary, but also confirm the reporters' initial suspicions.
Plus, nice double-negative in the second sentence. Makes it seem like Kane was possibly not one of the four Jets players to not show up in Winnipeg this week.
You ready for the smoking gun?
Considering he’s only a three-hour flight away in Vancouver, some are wondering why he still wasn’t on the ice in Winnipeg on Thursday, although it’s believed he will be there on Friday.
"Evander Kane has not showed up yet! Oh, he's coming today? Can I still write an article about it?"
Of all the dumb things Evander Kane has been criticized for in his life, not showing up to work three days early is right up there. Hang on though, the article, which has a soundbyte from Andrew Ladd, and then ends there, also has a poll:
Somehow, it's gotten to the point where just 16% of Jets fans want to keep around their best young player. This is the result of Gary Lawless suggests that "Kane's days in Winnipeg are numbered" before Kane played a single game under his new six-year deal signed in the summer, a Winnipeg Sun columnist suggesting Kane is a "showoff" and that "isn't a Winnipeg thing". The Sun, on the same day of the Twitter money phone controversy, ran a story about Kane's struggles in the KHL.
These aren't all awful things in a vacuum, but the agenda-setting by the local media helps shape the discussion, that manifests itself in the comments section. Former Jets Nation columnist Scott Taylor once wrote that Kane was "a big-city, 21st Century athlete in a small town that has never warmed to athletes".
Perhaps that could be the problem. When Winnipeg's first NHL team moved, the average player salary was less than half of what it is today, and the number of players who make what Kane makes could be counted on one hand, even if you lost a pair of fingers in a lawnmower accident. If blue-collar Winnipeg fans are as into the Jets as they say they are, they're going to have to come around on the reality of modern NHL players. These are star athletes, paid handsomely for what they do, but also make richer people than themselves very rich. Athletes have no moral obligation to become honourary, accepted citizens of the city. Their obligations are to play, and the fans' primary concern should be with whether or not his performance is any good. It just so happens Evander's was.
January 09 2013 03:48PM
Welly. Welly. Welly. If our old friends at Bodog didn't release the odds of winning the Stanley Cup now that the lockout has ended - a mere 145 months after it began. Good news in these parts up here in Edmonton, because it confirms something we already knew - The Oilers are awesome.
January 09 2013 11:50AM
Just because you're into fantasy hockey doesn't mean you're this guy.
In case you haven't heard, the NHL is back.
I'm aware that some people have been put off by the ordeal that dragged on through to January 6th, claiming that they're not coming back to the game. And while I disagree with those sentiments, everyone is entitled to their beliefs. I'll personally be enjoying the NHL product as much as I have in the years leading up to this lockout; if not even more, now that I have been reminded of terrible life without it can be.
One of the ways in which I consume the product, making the most of the experience, is by playing in fantasy hockey leagues. It's competitive, it's fun, it allows you to feel like a General Manager (without the stress that accompanies that position), and it makes you care about things you may not have necessarily cared about otherwise.
Friend of the blog, Jeff Angus, and I have combined to give a fantasy hockey preview of sorts, with a focus on the more prevalent questions surrounding the Winnipeg Jets heading into this shortened 2013 season. Believe it or not, the Jets enter the season as one of the more fascinating teams from a fantasy perspective, with a roster that boasts a handful of multi-dimensional talents.
Read Past the Jump for More.
January 09 2013 10:19AM
On May 31st, 2011, Gary Bettman held a press conference at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. The reason? To announce that the City’s beloved Jets were finally coming back home. As expected, the city went wild with excitement. Whether it was for financial reasons, a weak Canadian dollar, or any political reasons that were never made public, Winnipeg had been wronged in a terrible manner. But, on that day, on May 31st, 2011, that unforgettable wrong, had been righted; and the heroes were True North Sports and Entertainment.
So how do things get better for Winnipeg than that right? I mean the team is under virtually no pressure to bring the city a Stanley Cup right now. With the combination of the fan’s euphoria, and the years committed by the season ticket holders, the MTS Centre will be packed for at least five years. The Jets have it made, right?
There is another thing for Jets fans to be excited about, and it’s not going to be a one-time ovation type celebration. Andrew Ladd, in his role as captain of the Winnipeg Jets, is a relationship that is going to grow and even further endear the fanbase with this team, and as a result will entrench this team once again within the community.
I had the great pleasure to talk with Andrew, and discuss his first year with this new team and this new city. I first met Andrew in his days with the Calgary Hitmen, and grew to respect him, not just as a player, but as young man; focused and dedicated. You could see even then how driven he was to be the best he could be in making his team the best they could be. A trait he carried on into the NHL, and helped him to carry not one, but two Stanley Cups.
This is not an interview about labour talks or CBA negotiation tactics. I agreed to not ask Andrew about those issues, to respect his place within the NHLPA. It’s about hockey, and a player that truly loves to play the game.