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JN Airmail: Mean Spirited Jets

Maybe the 9-4-3 record and second place in the Central division spot has Jets fans feeling content with where their team is, because over the last few weeks there haven’t been many questions asked when it has come time for you all to ask us questions for this little Q and A feature we do here each week.

Still, we did get a few over the past week which I will happily answer for you now. If you have a nagging question about the Winnipeg Jets, about hockey issues in general or maybe how we’d fix the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (may as well give us a shot at it, it’s already been 27 years..) then leave a comment below or better yet send us a message (be it @ reply or DM) on our Twitter!

“Puck” asks: Can the Jets be a top three team in the Central, or are they overperforming and we should expect them to drop?

Well not to be all boastful and stuff, but before the season started I kinda predicted that they’d finish in the top three of the division, so so far so good right? (Although to be fair I wasn’t the only one who thought that, it was just maybe I was willing to go out on a limb and say it happens for sure)

There are things about this team that could sink it – penalty kill, too much dependence on top line scoring – but there is still room for improvement in those areas that I think are overdue to happen. More to the point, players like Dustin Byfuglien and Brian Little have been arguably underperforming so far to start this season and should be at least a little better.

As Tony alluded to in his numbers breakdown a few weeks ago, that the Jets are doing as well as they are with the issues they have could be a very good sign that even better things are yet to come.

Sampo asks: Ken Hitchcock called the Jets “a mean-spirited team.” Do they really have this reputation? Is it good/bad or does not matter? Should I feel guilty for enjoying hearing it from the other side coach?

As much as I don’t care for him, Don Cherry once said something about the late 90’s and early 2000’s Edmonton Oilers that always stuck with me. Back in those days opposing teams would comment how much they enjoyed going to Edmonton to play the young, fast skating Oilers and Grapes mentioned how he thought that was a ‘negative’ and that you really don’t want teams to come out and publicly state how much they look forward to playing you.

You don’t even have to be a pro hockey player to know that’s the case. If you’ve ever played at any level league, you had teams that you looked forward to playing and teams that you didn’t for a number of reasons, but you really don’t want to be a team that other teams actually look forward to playing and skating with.

You want to be the team that opposing teams go “oh man, it’s going to be a long night where I’d rather be playing anyone else” and that’s what the Jets reputation is.

When the Jets are ‘on’ and playing as well as one would expect them to play, they not only have talent that a team needs to worry about containing, but they play with an edge, will finish hits and will scrap in every battle for a loose puck or possession on the ice. That’s a great reputation to have if you ask me and one the Jets should embrace.

Tyler asks: Should fighting be outright banned in hockey?

I’m so back and forth on this one.

Ideally, I’d personally like it to see gone outright knowing what we know of concussions and head injuries and knowing the stress and trauma it has put on former pros who were on NHL rosters strictly for their face punching abilities.

The problem in my eyes is that the nature of hockey lends itself to causing fights more than any other sport and there is something to be said for “policing” the game so that it doesn’t devolve into stick swinging and cheap shots, so expecting fighting to be gone outright is an unrealistic expectation.

I think the way it is now in the NHL is almost ideal. You no longer have the hired goon who will play two minutes a night and just get a tap on the shoulder when it’s time to fight someone. All 12 forwards that dress in a game need to be at least somewhat skilled and able to contribute, and if they can do that, why would you want them missing five or ten minutes chunks of time in a game as they serve fighting penalties?

I think it’s why you’ll see more of the Jamie Benn’s and Blake Wheeler’s of hockey get into fights. Not that you want to see those guys taken out of games, but sometimes the “hockey code” dictates that a player handle their own business now.