Things seem to be going a little bonkers in the Peg lately. At least hockey wise that is. In the last week or so we’ve had a rather angry and disappointed fan base around these parts, as is to be seen when your team is 5-6-1, 11th in the Eastern Conference, and has been apparently lacking the effort you’d expect from a professional hockey team. That being said, it’s time to slow down for a minute here and get our heads on straight, and really think about what exactly is going on.
THE GOALIE SITUATION
The Jets are not going and should not go after Roberto Luongo.
Yes, I understand goaltending has been a problem. Pavelec has been less than average this year and is quite possibly making more money than he is really worth. Montoya is not a solution, and is hurt.
That being said, Vancouver is reportedly asking for an arm and a leg for Roberto. They want at minimum a roster filling center, a top prospect, and a draft pick. Meaning they would probably want Burmistrov or Little, Scheifele, and probably a first or second round pick.
As a team that is currently rebuilding, does that sound like a good idea to you? I would hope not. Not to mention that monstrous contract the Jets would then being taking on, thus limiting them even further from any free agent signings that may help in the future or re-signing one of the many RFA’s they will want back this offseason. A much more realistic option may be to look at Jonathan Bernier out of the Kings organization, who is currently backing up Jonathan Quick and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Chevy wouldn’t be able to get his negotiating rights for cheap, but it would be nowhere close to the price for Roberto, and it gives the Jets a chance to create a much more reasonable contract.
ANTROPOV, JOKINEN, MIETTINEN AND WELLWOOD
These four players (I would have thrown Ponikarovsky in there two, but he’s no longer with the franchise) have probably been some of the most criticized players on the Jets since their arrival, and in most cases, rightfully so.
Yet, it needs to be realized by everyone what role these guys are truly playing in Cheveldayoff’s master plan. They are nothing more than “roll fillers” on the team until some of the younger guys in the farm can grow and develop. Antropov, Wellwood, and Miettinen are all unrestricted free agents in the offseason, and Jokinen is a UFA after next year. Believe it or not, the guys in the Jets front office actually want to build a winner. You cannot do that by rushing your prospects through the system, and players such as these give Scheifele and company time to grow and flourish. hould these guys be producing more while they are here? Yes. But you can’t expect players to be superstars when they simply…aren’t.
THE CALLS FOR A BIG MOVE
It is well known that building a winner takes an approximate five year plan. Upon the Jets arrival in Winnipeg, the franchise underwent new ownership, hired a new GM, and a new coach. It’s therefore safe to say that last year was "year one".
Now real quick, I want you to think of the last team that won the Stanley Cup completely though trades and free agent signings. Think of one? Because I can’t. Yes, teams do “spruce up” their lineups through free agency and trades, but to build a winner you need to draft well and develop players, and in order to get quality you need to give up quality. There is NO chance the team is going to trade away high draft picks for a temporary solution, and Kevin Cheveldayoff is currently in the process of building the core of a team that is meant to sin Stanley Cups in the future. Not right now.
What they do have is trade options on the blue line in the form of Ron Hainsey and Paul Postma. Look for a possible move at the deadline that might see a higher draft pick or decent prospect/forward to come the Jets way from a team who really wants to make that push for the Cup. Otherwise, don’t get over optimistic thinking the Jets going out and unloading for one superstar player.
THE LACK OF EFFORT
This is something I feel fans have every right to get riled up about. On more than one occasion this year the Jets have come out and put in minimal effort, at home nonetheless, and that is simply unacceptable. Especially when you consider the fact that fans have to spend approximately $150/seat to take their families to one or two games a year (if they are lucky). It is one thing to lose a game when you are working hard and a team just beats you. It’s another when you come out and show various moments of just simply not caring. Fans deserve better then what they have gotten at home this year. Even more so when you consider the shenanigans that occurred earlier during what was supposed to be a season.
FIRING THE COACH?!?!?
For the first time since the team returned, after the Flyers game on Tuesday I heard fans saying that Coach Claude Noel should be fired.
Let’s think here for a minute. It is his second year with a team that probably over achieved last year, with a roster half loaded with “fillers”, and he is working under a GM and owner known for loyalty. I don’t exactly foresee Coach Noel leaving too soon. Maybe, and just maybe, should the Jets tank for the rest of the year and players stop responding, I could see that talk starting to heat up, but don’t count on it.
Teams go through their ups and downs during a season, and in a city like Winnipeg where hockey is such a major aspect, people will tend to overreact. Phrases such as "creating a team identity" and "reforming the feel inside the room" are things we hear on a regular basis from the franchise, and doing these sorts of things take time and patience from not only the front office staff, but from fans as well. This is only the second year this leadership group has been in charge, so while we as fans have every right to be angry and frustrated due to a lack of effort, well…Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I for one am more than willing to wait and let them build a system that is successful for years as the Detroit Red Wings have, than to rush into success for a year and suffer for ages, ala the Columbus Blue Jackets.
What do you think?