Don’t get me wrong – I love the Jets. But something is a little off.
You see, when you look at the History of the new Jets, you’ll see the leading scorer in franchise history is Ilya Kovalchuk, with none other than the immortal Vyacheslav Kozlov in second place, some 199 points back. With a little luck, we can expect to see Tobias Enstrom pass Marian Hossa for 3rd place with 32 more points this season. Exciting, I suppose, but there’s something about watching Nik Antropov’s pursuit of Ray Ferraro for 9th in all-time ‘Jets’ scoring that leaves me feeling a bit empty.
Unfortunately, the history of the Jets 1.0 belongs to the Phoenix Coyotes. Who’s the leading scorer in the Coyotes franchise history? Naturally, the greatest Coyote of all-time, Dale Hawerchuk, of course. His 929 points still leads them all, including active leader Shane Doan, who currently sits 3rd, by 137 points. Frankly, this is all a little stupid.
Now, I realize this is what happens when one franchise leaves, and another takes it place, but I’d like to see the NHL sell/give the History of the Jets 1.0 to the Jets 2.0, to make one, unified history of the Jets.
Is it really that hard? It’s essentially just paperwork. It’s got to be possible. For one – the NHL owns the Coyotes. Can’t Gary Bettman just give the ‘Jets’ part of their History back to JetsNation? You could then have the Coyotes history stand alone. You could finally take down the Hawerchuk and Hull banners in Phoenix. Think about it – should Jets fans have an Illya Kovalchuk night? No way! This way, it would open the door for Phoenix to have special nights each season where they celebrate the greatest Coyotes of all. Imagine how many tickets they could sell for Ladislav Nagy Night, Martin Hanzal Day, and of course, the Derek Morris Party.
What to do with the Thrashers Franchise records then? Send it to the History pile alongside the Philadelphia Quakers, California Seals, and Pittsburgh Pirates. No one will miss Danny Heatley’s Atlanta stats anyways.
Mark Chipman has made it clear that the New Jets are a diffrient franchise, and although that may be true, a truer truth is that the Jets new and old will be forever linked. It can’t be escaped. There’s a reason he settled on ‘Jets’ and not ‘FrostBite’ for a team name. In my eyes, and that of every Jet fan I know, the Jets are one franchise.
With that in mind, I thougt it would be fun to name my top 5 Jets all-time by position. Here we go:
1. Dale Hawerchuk – Who else was it going to be? 929 points in 713 games. Hall of Famer. At one point in time, it could be argued that only Gretzky and Lemieux were better. He was the best Jet is some of their best years.
2. Thomas Steen – The Captain. Mr. Consistent. He did everything, including injure Steve Yzerman one year. With 817 points in 950 game, he sits 2nd in all-time points and 3rd in games played. An all around talent who was never fully appreciated.
3. Alexei Zhamnov – The least heralded of the 3 super rookies of the 92-93 season, Zhamnov still finished with 267 points in 235 games played. He also had a ridicukous one-handed break away move that worked more often than not.
4. Bryan Little – Our first new Jet! Although his career Jets totals of 51 points places him around 100th all-time and tied with such luminaries as Stephan Quintal and Peter Marsh, Little has been a reliable top 2 line Centre for the Jets since their return, including a nice game winner against Florida the other day.
5. Laurie Boschman – 8th all-time leading scorer – 7th if you remove Shane Doan’s Phoenix numbers. He was physical presence that could score, fight, and had a sweet mustache. Delete Tkachuk’s Phoenix numbers, and he’s the Jets all time penalty leader to boot.
1. Teemu Selanne – Who else? 76 goals in his rookie season? Took a city by storm? Probably still the most loved athlete in Winnipeg history. 306 points in less than 3 full seasons, and still ranks, appropriately, 13th in franchise scoring, though if you take out the Coyote numbers, he’s even higher. The best of the best.
2. Blake Wheeler – Already 73 points as a Jet, he’s big, fast and has wicked soft hands. When the Jets win their first Cup, expect this guy to play a major role.
3. Paul Maclean – Not just a great mustache, this guy was a relaible scorer for the Jets throughout the 80’s. 518 points in 527 games, he’d actually be the 3rd leading scorer in Winnipeg Jet history.
4. Brian Mullen – 296 points in 372 games in the early 80’s – if Chris Thorburn has this kind of Jet career, we’ll consider ourselves lucky.
5. Ed Olcyzk – I’m biased here – I loved the guy. Wasn’t a Jet for long, but he was great while he was there. 201 points in 214 games, he was one of the few big names brought in by the Jets.
1. Keith Tkachuk – Yes, he gathered most of his numbers as Coyote, but until one of the new Jets has a 50 goal season, he’s #1 with a bulet.
2. Evander Kane – 65 points as Jet so far, he’s breathing down Mike Eagles neck on the all-time Jets scoring list. In time, it’s quite possible he’ll be the best left winger in franchise history.
3. Andrew Ladd – The Captain! 58 points as Jet so far, he’s a solid two way presence who does it all pretty well. He’s the current Jet that reminds me most of Thomas Steen.
4. Morris Lukowich – Way before my time, but his name was synomous with the Jets growing up. With 345 points in 431 games in the late 70’s and early 80’s, it’s easy to see why.
5. Doug Smail – Another moustached man cracks the List. 397 points in 691 games, he was fast could score a little, and had a great name for kids to pronounce for laughs.
1. Phil Housley – Not an easy choice. He wasn’t a Jet for long, but he was amazing when he was there, including a stunning 97 points in 92/93. Many played longer, but none played better on the Jets blueline.
2. Teppo Numinem – Reliable. Steady. Boring. All true. He did it all, and you never noticed.
3. Dustin Byfuglien – The man! There’s no D-men like Dustin. There’s not a lot of Forwards like him, either. Already with 60 points in his Jet career, he’s a huge presence, and the only defenseman I know who can be at Centre Ice when the play is in his zone.
4. Tobias Enstrom – 45 points as Jet, and the slickest puck mover this side of Phil Housley.
5. Randy Carlyle – Although his best years were in Penguins silks, Carlyle was a steady presence on the Jets blueline for 10 seasons. And he never wore a helmet.
1. Bob Essensa – Most wins. Most Shutouts. Most games. Most fun name to say. He was solid, solid, solid.
2. Brian Hayward – Sure, his GAA was 4.27, but he was the #1 guy for years, and sits second in career victories.
3. Nikolai Khabibulin – Sure, he barely played as a Jet, but his effort in game 5 of the 96 playoffs to stonewall the Red Wings in Detroit, and thus bring the Jets back for one final game, solidifes his position as all-time Jet great.
4. Daniel Berthiaume – Poker Reddick was way more fun, but Berthiaume won more games and had more shutouts.
5. Ondrej Pavalec – Yeah, it’s early, and I’m not entirely sold on him but with 32 career Jet wins, he’s already 6th all-time and if all should go the way it is, he’ll be 2nd in career wins at the end of next season. Could he end up the best Jets goaltender of all time?
And there is the list. No Sergei Bautin, Luciano Borsato or Paul Postma. Let me know – who’s on your list?