The old adage states, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Well, neither was the ‘Peg. The Winnipeg Jets have been building their empire in the WHA since 1972 and later joined the NHL in 1979. The foundation of the team has always been grounded in their belief in tough hockey, never being afraid to take a risk and, most importantly, there being no better night out than a ‘Whiteout’ night out. We all know that before anything of real value can truly flourish, time must be taken to cultivate it to grow. While the Jets’ exodus from town was certainly a blemish on the empire’s reputation, it should not diminish the moves the team has made to better the franchise and the city as a whole. The Jets didn’t waste any time to start wheelin’ and dealin’ and neither should we. So without further adieu, here are the trades that altered the Jets’ DNA.
OUT: 1984 1st round pick – Doug Bodger + Moe Mantha → Pittsburgh Penguins
IN: Randy Carlyle → Winnipeg Jets
John Ferguson has expressed he had no qualms or regrets about the deals done as General Manager of the Jets and, even if he did, this trade would not be one of them. Acquiring Randy Carlyle, the prolific offensive-defenceman was one of Ferguson’s best moves for Winnipeg. Carlyle was coming off a lacklustre 1982-83 season but, with 83 and 75 point outputs in previous seasons, had demonstrated his potential. The Jets’ capitalized on his underrated value the following year and snapped him up for a pick and a prospect, whose performance would pale in comparison to Carlyle’s. The Jets were desperate for a cornerstone defenceman and, while giving up a first-round pick was risky, Ferguson responded to Jets’ fans’ cries for him to take the risks needed to make a playoff-push; Carlyle was that risk.
Carlyle would go on to lace up for Jets for ten straight seasons, including 564 games played, over 300 points and, because it was the 80s, over 700 penalty-minutes. Carlyle flourished with the Jets and ended his playing career in the ‘Peg. This was a sliding-doors-moment for the Jets and beg to question: what if the Jets didn’t run into the Oilers in every playoff series? Well, that was a hypothetical that Carlyle was forced to deal with his entire Jets tenure, which included six losses to the Oilers in the playoffs. While the teams that could beat the Oilers dynasty were far-and-few-between, Carlyle played a crucial role in maintaining the Jets’ competitive edge every season. The Jets’ DNA was permanently altered when Carlyle came to town. Without him, they likely would not have been able put together seven straight playoff appearances for the city of Winnipeg. In fact, the franchise recognized his contributions this year by inducting Carlyle into the Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame.