It’s a special time in JetsNation. In the last week, the team has locked up Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and Zach Bogosian to long-term deals at not insignifigant amounts of money. For any Team, in any market, signing 3 of your young, and best, players to multi-year contracts is welcome news. But for fans of the Winnipeg Jets, what’s happened this week marks a new era in Jets-fannery
Those around for Jets 1.0 will remember that this is the kind of thing that could never, ever, in a million years, happen. The reality was that young players would cut their teeth in town, only to leave once they and their sharp teeth became too expensive for the frozen city that floods. Teemu Selanne and Dale Hawerchuk were both dealt, not because they couldn’t play the game, but because the Jets couldn’t afford to have them continue to do so in Winnipeg’ian (I’m well aware that’s not a word, but I’m amusing myself at this hour) colors.
It wasn’t just the Superstars, either. Even a young Bryan Marchment was dealt to Chicago, with the prime motivator being that the Jets former 1st round pick was in line for a raise. Even youthful truculence from offensively challenged defenseman with mullets was out of our price range.
So what’s happened over this past week has been very special for us long haul Jets fans, even though signs were there early on that things were going to be diffirent this time around. Clearly, having the richest guy in the country onboard the Ownership team bodes well for things at first glance, but seeing it all come to fruition has been something to behold.
What began with the long term signings of Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane, Tobias Enstrom, and Ondrej Pavelec in the pervious offseasons needed to be finished this year by locking up the key RFA’s on the Team. And minus the loss of an unhappy Alex Burmistrov, the Team has locked up every key member of this team for a whole lotta years to come.
Furthermore, there’s a core of players who actually want to play in Winnipeg long term. This is bizarre stuff. The way Ilya Bryzgalov and Shane Doan made it sound, the Jets would be competing with the Fukishima nuclear plant in the attractive work place category. Talented NHL players who want to remain Winnipeg Jets for years to come? It’s like we’re living in a dream world.
Seriously, if you would have told me 5 years ago that, not only would the Jets be back, but that they’d be one of the top spending Teams in the NHL, with a litany of young stars locked in for signifigant term, I would have instantly demanded you share your ludicrously powerful hallucinogenics. We’ve gone from a market that had to trade its best assets frequently just in order to stay in business, to the 10th highest payroll in the League. It’s like the weird, gangly, awkward girl from school became a solid 8 – with room for improvement.
And from here, it’s easy to dream bigger. Can you see it? That peak up there? We may very well be looking at the Core that will take the team to somewhere it’s never been before – a playoff game victory. It makes me light headed just thinking about such lofty goals. But there’s no stopping things now. It all feels possible. From here, you can just about see it around the bend and through the clouds.
But all that’s down the road, still. And the past is the past, which is good, because there’s many other things I’m happy to leave behind there – that’s how parking tickets work, right? Now, though, is a wonderful time, a moment we should embrace with gratitude. Never before in all of NHL history have the ducks lined up so well for the Jets. Everyone is signed. The Team CAN afford to win. Doesn’t it feel good?