In this two-part story we look at what will happen if the Winnipeg Jets make or miss out on the post season. Part 1 looks at what will be the effect on the Jets should they fall short.
With ten games left in the Jets season, Winnipeg sit 2 points out of a playoff spot. What will happen if the Jets fall short of their goal and miss the post season?
The fact that Winnipeg is in the thick of a playoff race and will most likely be so up until the final games of the season should not be over looked. This is a team that many experts expected to finish up similar to where they did last year, (23rd overall) because it was largely the same team from last season.
Winnipeg has surprised many however and have used a strong home record (23-11-4) to become a playoff contender. They are one of the youngest teams in the NHL (27.5 avg/age) and the experienced gain from a playoff race is priceless.
Remember back to 2008 when a young and talented Pittsburgh Penguins team led by Sidney Crosby took Detroit to 7 games before losing the Stanley Cup final? That led to that famous commercial with Crosby declaring he never wanted to be in this picture again.
One year later when history looked to repeat itself but Crosby and the Penguins rallied back from a 3-1 series hole to win game 7.
Would they have been able to do so had they not been so close the previous year? Maybe but maybe not. One can’t measure the motivational factor that came from having something in your fingertips but not grasping it.
Should the Jets miss the playoffs in their first season in Winnipeg it will be something that sticks with them. Much more than it did in Atlanta where few noticed or cared because by then it was time for Baseball. Winnipeg is a city that takes notice and sets expectations and while no one would be more disappointed than the players, this is now an organization and management team that won’t accept losing for long.
Missing the playoffs for the Jets will have a long-term domino affect on the entire team. The realization that every point can make or break your playoff aspirations is a lesson that when learnt the hard way will have a greater, longer lasting impact on this team then sneaking in.
Don’t get me wrong, post season play is invaluable experience; But missing it, in a hockey crazed city like Winnipeg could be better for their long-term success. None of the Jets players will ever want to be in that picture again.
Young players like Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane, Alexander Burmistrov, Ondrej Pavelec and Zach Bogosian would come into next season with a chip on their shoulders, and don’t even get me started on the fire that would be lit under the captain’s butt either.
Andrew Ladd is a man who knows what it takes to win and as much as the fans and organization won’t accept losing, neither will he. We’ve seen it already from him this year and if the Jets miss out by a win or two or imagine if they miss by just one point. His message to start next year will be clear and concise.
Don’t leave it to chance, don’t take a night off and don’t give away points by not closing out games.
Long term this may be a better learning example then making the playoffs and losing in the first round. The franchise’s only post season experience is a four game sweep and they haven’t been back since. No one expects them to make it far if they do get in and even if they manage to grab the 3rd seed and home ice advantage it’s unlikely they could get past teams like the Rangers, Penguins or Bruins in a seven game series.
Sure they’ll learn what it takes to play in the post season but they may be better off learning that next year. The Jets are doing all the right things for long-term success and the core talent is there. Consistency and experience are missing. Experience would come with a playoff appearance but consistency needs to come from failure and realization that you have to perform every game or it can come back and bite you. Missing the playoffs will teach them that.
So the question is for the Jets to eventually win the Stanley Cup what is more important to learn this year? Consistency or experience?