We’re still building our audience here at Jets Nation, and we have new people arrive all the time. Those people have missed out on the joy of everything we’ve done to date, and that feels like robbery to me. To celebrate our collective genius, we’re going to look back at some of our best work from November.
It’s a clip show!
The month kicked off with a terrific piece of poetry by Ross Smith entitled "The Ghost of Dale Hawerchuk." Yes, it was a Hallowe’en poem, so technically from October, but this bit of writing should be in every anthology of Canadian literature around, so it deserves another read.
In honour of Movember, Brett Martin reprised his Jets All-Moustache Team, because "November is more than just a time to separate the boys from the vintage pornography actors."
We also covered the hockey team, I assure you.
Matt Eichel gave us some stats to ponder from the first month of the season. It wasn’t the writing that made me pick this piece, it was the revelation of how far we’ve come during the tough schedule of November. I mean, relative to the speed of tree growth, this team is rocketing to the stars! We know plenty has changed in the process of this team, but looking back, not much has changed in terms of the results of these telling stats.
We did have some milestones this month, though. For instance, the invention of ‘Helmet Pardy’ was right here on Jets Nation! In one of his very funny and insightful weekly features, The Friday Five-Hole, Rhys Finnick coined the term that would later annoy Mark Chipman. That’s what fame is, folks.
Speaking of milestones, I noted that the Jets might have the worst powerplay in the NHL when measured over the past three seasons. That’s a new low!
The desire to fire Head Coach Claude Noel seemed to bubble up a few times in the month, but no where was the idea funnier than in Brett Martin’s screed against the coach, delivered between comedy tours. And perhaps none were more raw than Travis Hrubeniuk’s rant after losing to Chicago for the third time on one calendar page. Even Claude Noel himself seemed to be getting in on it, and his bizarre press conference to end the month suggested to me that he is out of answers and out of his depth.
The team has a number of problems, but one of them might be the process by which Noel evaluates and develops players. I argued that James Wright playing the best hockey of his NHL career only goes to show that the team wasted 50 NHL games developing a 4th liner in the big leagues, and it should be concerning for how the team intends to handle Scheifele and Trouba.
We also saw from Travis some of the holes on this club revealed in process metrics (aka fancy stats). With so much debate about whether Pavelec is a poor goalie or simply on a poor club, Travis decided to devote considerable effort and time to tracking the goals against the Jets in what he called the Pavelec Performance Tracker. It’s a terrific and interesting project, and his 25-game review is absolutely must-read material for understanding the Jets netminder. It adds depth to the very compelling interview we did with Goalie Scout Justin Goldman back in October about Pavelec, and it let me to wonder what the team would be like if Pavelec had always had a better save percentage.
Travis is also tracking scoring chances and zone entries for the team, and his 20-game reviews of each (linked to the left) tell the story of a team with two tiers of players and reveal some troubling inadequencies in the Jets lineup.
The Jets give us an up-and-down fan experience that can be hard to capture in the format of sports journalism. Narratives fall apart so fast that the only thing to stick to this team is the idea of inconsistency. I can tell you that it’s a maddening thing to cover for Jets Nation – knowing that period to period the team will look and perform differently.
As well, in their extended absence, I know many Jets fans took to cheering for other teams (or at least against Toronto).
The experience of being an Edmonton fan living in Vancouver and writing about the back-and-forth Winnipeg Jets led Ross Smith to write a tremendous essay called Schizofania. Like his poem above, it’s not something you’d find penned by our esteemed colleagues in the mainstream media. Instead, it’s a literary experience and a bit of autumn nostalgia, as well as charming and funny and – for me – poignant and just plain enjoyable.
The site continues to build not only our audience, but also our content and how we cover your Jets. As the managing editor, Jets Nation tends to reflect what I like about hockey: the community, the creative problem solving, the history it contains, and the ways it shapes us as people and Canadians and Winnipeggers. The season can get long, and in a world with enough disappointments and frustration, I also value the opportunity for humour.
Currently there are about 5,000 people reading our site consistently, but we only hear from a handful in the comments, and a few more on twitter. If there are types of stories you want to see more of, or writers on our site or elsewhere on the internet you’d like to see more of at JN, I’d love to hear it.
You can comment, find us on twitter @nhljetsnation, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.