During Thursday night’s 7-0 win over the Florida Panthers, there were a lot of chants echoing throughout the MTS Centre. There was obviously the classic “Go-Jets-Go.” We also heard “Jooooseeeee” in a successful attempt to throw Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore off his game. We even heard Jets fans declare, “We-want-first-place.” But during the final seconds of the third period, the MTS Centre crowd of over 15,000 chanted three letters, “G-S-T!”
Jets forwards Tanner Glass, Jim Slater, and Chris Thorburn, better known as the GST line, are not the top three scorers on the team. In fact, the whole line has a combined 37 points this season, which is 16 less than Jets leading scorer Blake Wheeler alone.
So in a game that saw the home team score seven goals in what was arguably the biggest game of the year, why was a line that was only +1 being serenaded with cheers as the game came to an end?
I’ll admit, they were the last line on the ice on Thursday, so that probably explains it. But the idea of a line like this one being showered with admiration every time they hit the ice says something about the type of players they are, and what they mean to this team.
Winnipeg Jets fans have fallen in love with the GST line. As much as we demand results, I think Jets fans value hard work over everything. As long as you’re skating at 100 per cent, blocking shots, going hard into the corners, and standing up for yourself, you’re usually okay in our books. And the GST line does all of these things.
The label of a “lunch pail” team is somewhat of a cliché in sports, but I think that accurately describes the GST line. Other than penalty minutes, these guys aren’t going to put up big numbers, and it’s almost a certainty that they aren’t going to make any all-star games. By themselves, they aren’t the shiniest gems in the treasure box, but together they make something special.
On the left wing, you have Tanner Glass. He’s a very fast skater, but he’s rarely flying by the defenseman for a break away, instead he’s flying into them in the corner. Down the middle there’s Jim Slater who is the veteran presence. He’s the longest-serving member of the Jets/Thrashers franchise, and he’s the type of player who will do anything for his teammates. Finally we have Chris Thorburn, the enforcer. He has more fights than he has points this season, and his mentality of standing up for himself and his teammates is one of the reasons he was named the alternate captain for the Jets this season.
As the Jets seem to be in the middle of a close playoff race they will need scoring, they will need goaltending, but most of all they will need character. The GST line provides character for a relatively young hockey club with the weight of a city on their shoulders. These guys provide a spark for the Jets almost every time they’re out on the ice. And if the Jets don’t make the playoffs, there’s a good chance it won’t be because someone on this line didn’t finish a check, block a shot, or drop the gloves when their team was counting on them.
There are a lot of statistics in hockey to measure success. And although heart isn’t something you can quantify, Jets fans just abbreviate it. G-S-T.