"Goodbye, my friend. Will I ever love again?" – Kanye West, Coldest Winter
This weekly column looks to discuss a certain number of relevant Jets topics on a certain day of the week. That certain number? Five. That day of the week? Friday. Also, hole. This is the Friday Five-Hole.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: KANE, BOGOSIAN NEW OWNERS OF JETS
In a Winnipeg Free Press article this past Wednesday, Jets beat writer Gary Lawless alleged Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian have become the team’s go-to players this season. Lawless asserts the two youngsters "bring more will and effort to games" than their teammates and have taken over. The future is now.
What Lawless really seems to be saying is that Kane and Bogosian look like they’re trying harder than the rest of the team. I mean, sure, Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom lead the team in scoring. And sure, Byfuglien, a defenceman, has only eight points fewer than Kane, a forward, over the past three seasons. And yes, one could point out that both Byfuglien and Enstrom play more minutes and in more situations than Kane or Bogosian. Heck, you could even point out that management didn’t put the "C" or an "A" on Kane or Bogosian, but Lawless’ point will still stand: they look like they’re trying really, really hard.
This is all not to say that the Jets don’t want to see this happen. It’s how any sports team hopes to operate, isn’t it?. The up-and-comers will evetntually succeed the star players, who will become veterans, and then eventually the brain-damaged retirees. Ideally Kane and Bogosian will continue to develop and become the franchise players, but it’s hard to make a case for them to assume that mantle now when it’s not supported in stats or team decisions – or based on a sample sizing larger than seven games. You’d have to be looking through subjective lenses that only see "jam".
THE 411 ON THE 3-4-0
After winning the first two games of the season, the Jets have now dropped four of their last five. This is another slow start for Coach Noel’s squad, who went 4-5-1 in their first ten games last season and 3-6-1 before that. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has always preached patience during his tenure in Winnipeg, but this losing trend must be leaving him antsy to do something about it. But what?
On paper, the Jets don’t look good. They are last in their division and middling to sub-middling in almost every team statistical category against the rest of the NHL. Off paper (and on the ice), the Jets also don’t look very good. Forechecking has been sporadically effective and own zone play has left something to be desired.
Patience is a virtue, but so is winning. The problems are clear. Coach Noel cannot win with this line-up. GMKC’s shopping list is a mile long. The Jets need another top-6 forward (bad), depth scoring/defense (really bad), and better goaltending (so bad you can taste it). If Jets’ brass is determined to make this a turn-around year, somebody has to have the cojones to make a bold decision.
I say give the "C" to Clitsome for alliteration’s sake.
WE HAVE A KANER DOWN, I REPEAT, WE HAVE A KANER DOWN*
Jets fans were collectively holding their breath after Evander Kane left practice Wednesday with a leg injury after an awkward fall with teammate Anthony Peluso. The injury has been deemed day-to-day and Kane may be ready to go for Friday’s game against the St. Louis Blues, said Coach Noel on Thursday.
As our Kevin McCartney has shown with his own coverage on the injury, a Kane-less line-up would be a devastating blow to the Jets. The young winger has arguably been the team’s best forward, and makes everyone around him better (unlike Bart). Not only would it be bad for the Jets, but for hockey fans as well. Kane has become one of the most exciting players in the NHL. Since his 30 goal campaign two years ago, Kane has looked on the verge of a revelatory season.
Of course, the real tragedy here would be the consequences of Coach Noel’s "You Break It, You Buy It" rule, a tradition brought with him from his Dayton Bombers days in the ECHL. The custom states that if a player is injured in practice, whoever was responsible must take their spot in the line-up. I know some of us were rolling our eyes at Coach Noel’s odd line scrambling Tuesday against the Canadiens, but Peluso on the first line would be even worse.
*This reference is a real long shot.
HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER, WITH HOCKEY
The Winnipeg Jets will host a Hockey Fights Cancer night at the MTS Centre when the Washington Capitals come to town. Hockey Fights Cancer is an initiative the NHL has been running since 1998 and has raised over twelve million dollars in cancer-related healthcare and research. Various Jets gear and other prizes will be raffled off with all the proceeds going to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.
The NHL is well known for getting teams involved in their local communites, and this is just another great example. Hockey Fights Cancer night at the MTS Centre should be a blast for anyone who attends, not just because this is such a great cause, but also because the Capitals suck. Kudos to the NHL and the Jets.
Although, I can’t help but think what a shame it will be to see this great foundation come to an end when the NHL inevitably bans fighting.
THE DEATH OF A SUPERMAN: KYLE WELLWOOD RETIRES
The entire hockey world trembled with sadness last week when ex-Jet Kyle Wellwood retired from professional hockey. After a month long stint with EV Zug of Switzerland’s National League A, Wellwood said his heart was simply no longer in the sport.
Allow me to shed this professional visage you’ve become accustomed to for just one moment:
This friggin’ sucks. Like, seriously. I loved Kyle Wellwood and if you didn’t, why do you hate love? The guy had sweet hands, great playmaking ability, and a versatility that could be used up and down the line-up. And yeah, haha, he was overweight for training camp once, and yeah, it was funny, but get over it, you’re probably fatter than him. I am. I’m fat with sadness. I was halfway through my Wellwood tribute song "Tiny Datsyuk". I was going to set it to that Elton John song, you know? "Crocodile Rock".
I’d like to end this week with us all giving a moment of silence to commemorate Kyle Wellwood’s career.
Seriously, do it.
… I guess you’re probably not making much noise reading.