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Thoughts On TSN’s All-Time Jets Team

As far as ‘we have nothing else to talk about right now’ content goes, I’ve enjoyed TSN’s All-Time 7 Project which is their attempt to put together the all-time best teams for each of the current seven NHL clubs, (sorry Quebec City) but with some interesting twists beyond the idea of just naming every top player on said team because that would have been a little too easy.

TSN wanted to have some interesting picks make each team and their rules made sure of that…

TSN All-Time Team Eligibility Criteria

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  • Team: two goalies, six defencemen, 12 forwards and one foundational player
  • Members must have played at least 225 games with the Jets
  • At least one member of the all-time team must be from the 2019-20 Jets
  • Players are slotted in positions they played with the Jets
  • One line must be comprised of defensive standouts, aka a checking line
  • One pair must be comprised of suffocating defenders, aka a shutdown pair
  • Lines and pairs are put together because they fit together, not because they are necessarily the first, second and third best at their positions
  • Foundational players are defined as players part of the fabric – the DNA – of a franchise
  • Last cuts by position are exactly as advertised, the players who just missed selection to the all-time team

It’s important to keep that criteria in mind as you look at who they picked for the Winnipeg Jets All-Time team as they revealed on Friday:

You can read up on TSN’s reasoning and arguments for their club here.

As Kevin Cheveldayoff would put it, there are “multiple moving parts” when talking about the building of this team, so lets break this down by the different aspects of this team…

The WHA Jets

The first thing that leaps out at anyone is the significant representation of WHA-era Jets, six of them to be exact, compared to five “2.0-era” Jets that made this team.

I understood when this project was announced that there was going to obviously be a blending of the two different NHL eras which in reality is a combination of two different franchises, but the inclusion of WHA players seems like a bit of a stretch. There are arguments that can be made about the quality of WHA hockey to NHL hockey and the WHA’s place in hockey history. After all, Gordie Howe is now fourth on the NHL’s all-time points leaderboard with 1,850, but if we include WHA totals, then Gordie remains a solid second place with 2,358 points.

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Also, if WHA history was that important, then players like Andre Lacroix and Marc Tardif would have spots in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

But at the very least, TSN has shown consistency in both allowing of multiple franchises – as they did with the Ottawa Senators – and picking players from the WHA era – as they did in taking three with the Edmonton Oilers – so this isn’t exactly a case of TSN bending rules for a team that would otherwise be pretty thin if you limited it to just the singular franchise that is the current Jets / former Atlanta Thrashers.

As for the WHA Jets that made the team. I get how important and dominant “The Hot Line” was, but I really could have done without Bobby Hull on this club for obvious reasons.

Whatever.

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Morris Lukowich is a fine inclusion here. I don’t think there is too much debate over having Lars-Erik Sjoberg as the foundational pick. Joe Daley is also ok here based on how important he was to those Avco Cup winning teams, but I would have gone a different route in goal.

About the Thrashers (and Coyotes)…

Let’s get this out of the way.

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I have written multiple times about how I wish that iteration of the club was recognized a little bit more, but in this case I’m fine with leaving out Atlanta Thrashers history. Just like we over-romanticize the 80’s and early 90’s 1.0 Jets, I feel there are a segment of hockey fans that do the same with the Thrashers. The Atlanta Thrashers were truly an awful hockey team for the 11 seasons they existed, making the playoffs just once (and being swept out of it) and only getting over the .500 mark in three of those 11 seasons.

Three of the top ten scorers in franchise history were only exclusive to the Thrashers, Ilya Kovalchuk, Vyacheslav Kozlov and Marian Hossa. Two of those three players I don’t think you can even really think of as “Thrashers” can you? Kozlov made his mark and had his most successful days with the Detroit Red Wings, while Hossa with just 222 games played as a Thrasher doesn’t even technically qualify for this All-Time team even if former Thrashers were considered.

If you’re the type of person who wants to downplay the importance of the WHA or 1.0 Jets, then any part of the Thrashers should be even less important to you.

Besides, if we’re being technical, there *are* three former Thrashers on here anyway. Take what you can get Thrashers fans.

As for the whole “you’re taking former Coyotes” argument that some trolls will roll with, two of the 21 players selected ever saw time in Arizona as a Coyote. Shane Doan isn’t on this team. No Craig Janney, or Kris King, or Nikolai Khabibulin (who you could argue might have a spot here) so shelve that talk as well.

The current Jets

Hellebuyck, Byfuglien, Scheifele and Wheeler are the no-doubters here and don’t look out of place at all on this team.

Andrew Ladd? I don’t know if he is as much of a lock, especially when you consider who missed the cut (which I’ll do in a moment), but if TSN is arguing he’s on this team for being a solid defensive/checking forward, then really his inclusion here is fine.

I also feel like Bryan Little should be on this team as a “foundational player” or that maybe you could have made Byfuglien the foundational player to make room for another d-man, but overall no arguments here on who made it from this era and who didn’t.

The 1.0 Jets

After all of that, you’re still looking at a team that has ten 1.0-era players on it which I suppose based on length of time 1.0 lasted (17 seasons) to the current club (9 seasons) I suppose the ratio is fair, and the players who do make the cut on this team are fairly deserving.

Selanne, Housley, Carlyle, Tkachuk, Hawerchuk, Steen and Numminen are the slam dunk picks.

Dave Babych is listed as part of this team’s “shutdown” defense pairing and it’s often overlooked that he was easily the Jets’ best defenseman in the early 80’s. Fredrik Olausson I feel was an underrated player as well and for as important as Babych was to the early 80’s Jets, Olausson was just as much for the late 80’s clubs.

Dave Christian is also an interesting selection to make this team as a checking forward, one that I don’t exactly agree with when you consider who didn’t make this team…

The snubs

Christian is on this club having just barely made the games played cut with 230 games as a Winnipeg Jet. Yes his point totals are impressive with 209 (79 goals, 130 assists), but they pale to the numbers put up by Paul MacLean.

MacLean played far longer in Winnipeg than Christian did, racked up 518 points (248 goals, 270 assists) and had a much bigger impact on Winnipeg hockey history. The only thing that you can maybe argue is that Christian was a better defensive forward than MacLean, but if you put MacLean in that line with Steen and Ladd, I think you make it a much bigger two-way threat.

Dave Ellett is a major omission on this team as well. I probably would swap out Olausson for him.

Bob Essensa would be my third big miss on this club and I think you swap out Daley for him. I fully admit to bias as growing up a fan of the 90’s Jets when he was ‘the man’ and that carrying more weight with me than the WHA years. Perhaps those over the age of 45-50 would disagree with me, but my biggest argument as to why Essensa should be on this team is the 1991-92 season when he had 21-17-6 record, a .910 save percentage that was tied for second in the league and dragged the Jets into a playoff spot that season.

Not unlike a certain Jets goalie from this current NHL season.


What do you think? Did TSN get it mostly right? How do you feel about the inclusion of WHA and 1.0 Jets? Let us know in the comments below, or in our social medias!