As I look back to May 31, 2011, I don’t recall worrying about the product on the ice with the Winnipeg Jets. The memories I recall are filled with excitement, passion and our city of Winnipeg coming together as one. Now, the thoughts surrounding the Winnipeg Jets are not as joyous.
In three years, the Jets have been in the same position. They have been in the middle of the standings, having very slim hopes of making the playoffs. Never too good, never too bad, but I wouldn’t call it a perfect balance.
Year 1: 37-35-10
Year 2: 24-21-3
As of right now the Jets are on pace to keep that imperfect balance to continue for a third year.
Why is it an imperfect balance?
It is not terrible that they aren’t the best in the league nor is it terrible they are at the basement of the league. The reason it’s a problem is because in three years, there have not been many substantial changes to the roster nor has there been a substantial change in the teams record and performance.
In Year One of the Winnipeg Jets 2.0, the team was not in a position to compete. The roster talent was below average. It’s understandable with the buzz and craziness surrounding the team. It must have been hard for the team to be aggressive during free agency and in the trade market.
The talent on this team was so poor that only 44% of the players that were on that roster, currently have Jobs in the NHL. The team finished tied for 10th in the Eastern Conference with 84 points. There was no screaming from fans, no anger towards the organization, nobody to blame. It was a common understanding that this team was not ready to compete.
Fans were ok with that because they were just happy to get their team back.
In the Year Two of the return of the Jets, the team finished in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They were 4 points shy of the playoffs in the 48 game lockout shortened season. The roster did not change much, at least for the better. The Jets acquired Alexei Ponikarovsky, but then traded the Russian Left Winger to the New Jersey Devils 12 games in to the season. The Jets acquired Olli Jokinen, but in the 48 game season he was not able to live up to his 4.5 million dollar contract.
The team would lose five games, then they would win five games. They could not find a way to stay consistent and carry on a successful effort on to the next game.
At the end of the season, unlike the previous season, the fans did feel disappointed.
Fingers began to be pointed, there needed to be someone to blame right?
People potentially thought Claude Noel could be in hot water and possibly lose his job, but Kevin Cheveldayoff made sure he felt safe and extended him to a one year contract.
Now, as I write this the Jets are improving with new coach Paul Maurice but the team is 27-25-5. The team has been the same for three years, they have been mediocre. There have been no major moves with this team and the core.
The best acquisition Cheveldayoff has made is Michael Frolik who has been a strong two way player for the Jets.
Can you blame Cheveldayoff for not being aggressive in the trade market and in Free Agency?
It all depends on what the Jets’ mindset is. Do they want to be competitive now or do they want to wait until their top prospects develop and then they would become competitive?
From the last three years, the Jets have made it clear they are in no position to be competitive and instead they are interested in the future. Top prospects Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele are currently making a huge impact on the team, but top prospects Nic Petan, Adam Lowry and Eric Comrie are a few years away from making an impact in the NHL.
Let’s face it, the honeymoon is over and the fans want to win now.
Winnipeg is a very loyal but demanding fan base.
It’s time for Kevin Cheveldayoff and the rest of the Jets management to start being more aggressive.
This team does not need a full blown rebuild. There is a lot of talent on this team. In three years, the core of this team has remained the same. This team and the core players have not gotten the job done in three years.
It’s time to keep some of the core and distribute the rest in return for other pieces to build this team.
Whether or not it’s time for the Jets to become more aggressive all depends on the plans of Cheveldayoff. The Jets might not be trading for a superstar in the near future but they have two players at 19 and 20 years old that are starting to look like they could be superstars on this team for years to come.
Become an MVP with Winnipeg Whiteout and never miss a thing.