Winnipeg Jets: It’s just Evander being Evander again

Evander Kane plays the fool, but he isn’t a fool. He knows exactly what he’s doing. I believe he truly enjoys yanking everyone’s chain. He craves the attention. It’s his mother’s milk.

rooftop riting biz card back sideNothing to see here, folks. Just another minor fender bender. Let’s move along.

I mean, this isn’t the first time Evander Kane and controversy have locked bumpers. Probably won’t be the last time, either. Seems to me this same thing happened just three months ago, almost to the day. You might recall that shortly after being a healthy scratch as punishment for an off-ice misdeed in advance of a match against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, a reporter asked Kane if he wanted out of Dodge.

He didn’t say yes. He didn’t say no.

“I’m here to answer hockey questions,” he replied.

That was Evander being Evander. Coy, evasive, arrogant, irreverent, petulant…a real smart-ass.

And so now we have Evander being Evander again. When a Team 1040 radio gab guy in Vancouver asked him Tuesday if he was looking for a new postal code, Kane thought it would be a swell idea to liven up summer with a bit of a brush fire.

“Evander,” asked Matt Sekeres, “do you want to play for the Winnipeg Jets anymore?”

“Well,” replied Kane, “I think I’m a Winnipeg Jet right now, and, you know, there’s been speculation and rumors the three years since I got there. So, you know, we’ll see what happens and we’ll carry on as if I’m a Winnipeg Jet.”

“There’s not a yes in there, and some Jets fans might say, ‘Why doesn’t he want to play for us?’ Or ‘Why isn’t he absolutely fully on board for playing for us?’ You’re shaking your finger at me.”

“I’m training hard and getting ready for this season, and last summer I didn’t have a full year of training due to some surgery I had, so I found it really important for me to start training early and get myself in the best shape possible for this season. So that’s my focus.”

Once again, he didn’t say yes. He didn’t say no.

That’s because life as a young National Hockey League rock star in small-market Winnipeg is a game of cat-and-mouse to Kane. Just call him Kitty Kane. Team ownership/management and the faithful in Jets Nation are the mouse. His joy toy, if you will.

Many have grown weary of his act. They see him as a boil on the Jets’ butt. Others point out that his multiple misteps are the product of youth. That they are victimless trespasses. That they are mole hills the media has turned into a mountain range. I’ve long been in the latter camp, although I’ve never subscribed to the “he’s just a kid” argument. Kane isn’t a kid. He turns 23 next month.

Kane plays the fool, but he isn’t a fool. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kane told Sekeres to ask the question. I believe he truly enjoys yanking everyone’s chain. He craves the attention. It’s his mother’s milk.

Think about it. He goes on a Vancouver radio show and some guy asks him if he wants out of Winnipeg. The simple answer is “No.” End of story. But not Kane. That would be too boring and our Evander doesn’t do boring. It’s so much more fun to rattle cages and tip cows. That’s why he’ll favorite a tweet proposing a trade to Philadelphia. Tee hee. That’s why he delivers yes-no-maybe-so answers to queries about his shelf life as a member of the Jets. Tee hee again.

It’s how he gets his jollies. It’s his play time.

I could be wrong, mind you. Perhaps Kane really does desire a new mailing address for one very good reason—he wants to win.

Let’s push aside punkish pranks and talk in hockey terms. Above all, professional athletes want to succeed. Unfortunately, Kane plays for a general manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff, who is all about the future. That is, Chevy collects draft choices like kids collect bubblegum cards, and he does nothing to improve the present-day product. In the meantime, Kane sees other teams in the Central Division making significant adjustments to their rosters and realizes there will be no playoff hockey in River City next spring. And numerous springs to follow. He’s tired of all the losing. He wants to grow a playoff beard. The only way to achieve that goal is a trade.

So, he acts like a damn fool to try and force Cheveldayoff’s hand.

I don’t think that’s it, though. I think Evander Kane is just a smart-ass who sits at the back of the classroom and tosses spit balls at the teacher. Big joke. Big reaction. Much attention. That’s what he’s all about.

After all, if it is was serious stuff, wouldn’t Chevy do something about it? I mean,we all recognize the GM as a man of action, right?

So, like I said at the top, there’s nothing to see here. Let’s just move along.

(FOOTNOTE: I invite your comments. I do not, however, welcome some of your comments. If you believe what I’ve written is the natterings of a nincompoop and belongs at the bottom of a bird cage, let ‘er rip. Tell me why. I enjoy healthy debate. That can be fun. If, on the other hand, your idea of a critique is to attack/insult me about my gender or sexual orientation, then we aren’t going to get along. Let’s put it this way: It is permissible to question the size of my IQ, but not the size of my boobs. Bottom line: I don’t get paid to write this crap, so play nice, kids.)

Winnipeg Jets: Chevy’s Summer of Nothing is unfolding as predicted

rooftop riting biz card back side(Editor’s Note: This piece was originally posted on May 22. On the heels of the 2014 NHL entry draft and the first week of free agent signings, I thought it would be worth revisiting, just to see if I actually know what I’m talking about.)

Let’s say you’re among the Winnipeg Jets faithful. You have endured another season that ended before the real fun began (read: Stanley Cup tournament). So now you wait. And you wonder.

Mostly, you wonder about Kevin Cheveldayoff. Or, to be more accurate, you worry about Kevin Cheveldayoff. You worry about what he might do. Or, in his case, you worry about what he might not do. Doing nothing is, of course, Chevy’s way of doing something.

Already, the chief cook and bottle washer of this non-achieving National Hockey League outfit has advised us that he will do nothing about Ondrej Pavelec—Pavs will be back in goal when the Jets return to business next autumn. Anyone with a hockey IQ higher than Evander Kane’s sweater number can tell you that Pavelec is to stopping pucks what Homer Simpson is to rocket science, so we must assume that Chevy believes some fantasy Fairy Godmother of Goaltenders will sprinkle Dominik Hasek dust on his Czech goalie sometime this summer and his five-hole will shrink like Dan Bylsma’s shelf life behind the Pittsburgh Penguins bench.

So, the local hockey heroes’ most weighty deficiency is between the goal posts, yet the man who generally manages the Jets has no plans to correct it. He will do nothing about it. In other words, he has done something by doing nothing.

This is why you worry about Cheveldayoff.

Had he done something significant in his first three years as puppet master of Team Stand Pat, the prospects of what might transpire during this off-season wouldn’t be quite so fretsome. Alas, as we all know, Cheveldayoff has spent his time in River City doing nothing, other than chant his draft-and-develop mantra and use the waiver wire as his private playground.

Naturally, his apologists in the media sip the True North Kool-Aid and drone on about how Chevy’s been too busy stocking a once-bare cupboard with draft picks and prospects. How he won’t sacrifice the future for the present. How he has a plan. The mainstream print propagandists remind us, ad nauseam, that the word of the day was, is and always will be “patience.” So we’ll have to excuse Cheveldayoff for failing to address present-day requirements, right?

Wrong. It’s time the Wizard of the Waiver Wire did something other than dumpster dive.

Yo! Chevy! You have the worst starting goaltender in the NHL. Fix it.

You have a rough-around-the-edges forward who gives you grief with his off-ice shenanigans but, at the same time, has considerable upside. It would be nice to see him skating alongside a centre-ice man who compliments his game. Fix it.

You have a core group that provides annual evidence that it is incapable of pushing this outfit to the next level, which is to say the playoffs. Fix it.

You have a hybrid skater who can take a game by the throat and rag-doll it, but he seldom seems in the mood to dominate. It could be that he’s pouting because he wishes to play defence, not forward. Fix it.

You have second-line talent on your first line, third-line talent on your second line, first-line talent on your third line, and fourth-line talent that should be either on waivers or in St. John’s. Fix it.

There is so much to do, but that could be why Chevy does something by doing nothing. He doesn’t know where to start.

I (and others) would suggest that goaltending was/still is the ideal place to begin any restructuring of the Jets, but, as stated, we know that won’t happen because Cheveldayoff holds firm to the odd, misguided notion that Pavelec will one day morph into Dominik Hasek.

That leads me to suggest that perhaps the Jets’ main weakness isn’t between the goal posts—it’s between Kevin Cheveldayoff’s ears.

Here’s my guess what will transpire this summer: The Jets gun-shy general manager will field offers for Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien and others just prior to, or on the floor during, the NHL entry draft. He won’t pull the trigger. I’m not promoting a transaction involving Kane or Byfuglien, understand. I’m just saying other teams will cast their lines into the trade waters, but Chevy won’t bite. He will do nothing.

His stable of bird dogs will then tell him which player to select in the first round, and we’ll be advised that this year’s chosen one is three or four years removed from being NHL-ready.

Once he has collected another handful of blue-chippers and/or never-will-be prospects, Cheveldayoff will re-sign Michael Frolik (a no-brainer) and Olli Jokinen (because head coach Paul Maurice really likes him). He’ll then wait for the opening faceoff next October.

In sum, the Jets’ summer of something will be all about nothing.

(Editor’s Footnote: Well, if you’re keeping score at home, I was wrong—Cheveldayoff did not re-sign Olli Jokinen. That was his way of doing something by doing nothing. He did sign free agent Mathieu Perreault, who will replace Jokinen in the Jets lineup. That makes the team younger, although not necessarily better. He also drafted a bunch of kids who are either three or four years away from the NHL or will never play in the NHL. In other words, he’s done nothing to improve the Jets. Who would have thought?)

(FOOTNOTE: I invite your comments. I do not, however, welcome some of your comments. If you believe what I’ve written is the natterings of a nincompoop and belongs at the bottom of a bird cage, let ‘er rip. Tell me why. I enjoy healthy debate. That can be fun. If, on the other hand, your idea of a critique is to attack/insult me about my gender or sexual orientation, then we aren’t going to get along. Let’s put it this way: It is permissible to question the size of my IQ, but not the size of my boobs. Bottom line: I don’t get paid to write this crap, so play nice, kids.)

Winnipeg Jets: We take you to the year 2025

rooftop riting biz card back sideWe now take you to the year 2025, where Kevin Cheveldayoff is holding court with news scavengers after the Winnipeg Jets have failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup tournament for the 14th straight National Hockey League season…

Paul Friesen, Winnipeg Sun: “Chevy, when do you expect this team to make the playoffs, if ever?”

Chevy: “As you know Paul, we are following the draft-and-develop blueprint we established in 2011, and we won’t deviate from that plan. We cannot deviate from that plan. The plan is fluid. It has no time frame.”

Friesen: “You didn’t answer my question, Chevy.”

Chevy: “I believe I did answer your question, Paul. It just wasn’t the answer you wanted to hear.”

Friesen: “Okay, let me approach it from a different angle. You’ve had the same main group of players since 2011—Pavelec, Little, Ladd, Big Buff, Kane, Wheeler, Bogo, Enstrom, Slater, Thorburn. They’re all in their late-30s or early 40s. Don’t you think it’s time to break up your core after 14 years of losing?”

Chevy: “Hey, don’t blame me for those guys! Rick Dudley and Don Waddell are responsible for those guys!”

Friesen: “Ya, you inherited them from Atlanta, but that was 14 years ago! You could have traded one or more of them by now. Starting with Ondrej Pavelec.”

Chevy: “Speaking of starting, I want you all to know that Ondrej will be our No. 1 goaltender again next season. I’m confident that he’s confident and that the other players are confident that he can get his save percentage up to at least .870 and his goals-against average down to 3.50. It’s just a matter of having confidence in his confidence. As for trading some of those other guys, I haven’t made a player-for-player trade in 14 years and I’m not about to start now. That would be a deviation from my draft-and-develop strategy, and I refuse to deviate from my draft-and-develop strategy. Guys like Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba are proof that my draft-and-develop strategy works.”

Friesen: “Ya, but you developed Scheifele and Trouba for the Vancouver Canucks.”

Chevy: “Hey, it’s not my fault that they got tired of playing in front of Pavs. I can’t say I blame them for signing with the Canucks as free agents. I think it’s great that we finally got to see what Scheif and Troubs look like with playoff beards. I was happy for them when they won the Stanley Cup and they were co-winners of the Conn Smythe Trophy. It proves I wasn’t wrong when I drafted them.”

Gary (La La) Lawless, Winnipeg Free Press: “You’ve never been wrong, Chevy. You’re the right man for the right job for the right team at the right time. Some see your propensity for doing nothing for 14 years as a flaw, but I see it as sheer brilliance.”

Chevy
Chevy

Chevy: “Still got your nose up my butt after all these years, eh Gary?”

La La Lawless: “You bet, Chevy. As long as you’ve got a butt, I’ve got a place to park my nose. That’s why they call me the True North Toady.”

Chevy: “Do you have any questions, Gary, or are you here just to suck up to me?”

La La Lawless: “No questions. I just came for the donuts and to glorify you.”

Ed Tait, Winnipeg Free Press: “I have a question, Chevy?”

Chevy: “I’m sure you do, Ed, and I’ll bet it’s a real freaking doozy.”

Tait: “If you were going to blow up this freaking team—I mean really blow it up real freaking good—would you do it with a shot gun, a machine gun, a cannon, a big-ass keg of dynamite or would you just kick everyone in the freaking nuts and tell them to get the hell out of Dodge?”

Chevy: “You always ask the most unusual questions, Ed. But why would I want to blow the team to pieces?”

Tait: “Fourteen freaking years of freaking losing, that’s why.”

Chevy: “Why is there so much emphasis on winning and losing? The emphasis should be on drafting and developing. The emphasis should be on the journey, not the destination.”

Tait: “Well, you might want to take a freaking look in the freaking stands, Chevy. Your freaking building was half freaking empty at most home games during this season’s freaking journey. Talk about a solid whack in the freaking junk.”

Chevy: “Let me ask you this, Grasshopper: If a hockey team misses the playoffs every spring and no one is there to see them miss it, did it really happen?”

Friesen: “Oh, Eddie’s right, Chevy. It really happened. You missed the playoffs for the 14th straight season. And the few fans you have left are demanding to know what you’re going to do about it.”

Chevy: “You’re feeling very frisky this morning, Paul. Somebody piddle on your Corn Flakes?”

Friesen: “No. I just think people who pay $1,500 for a ticket in the nose bleed section deserve a better team and when they don’t get it for 14 years they deserve some answers.”

La La Lawless: “Why don’t you get off Chevy’s case, Friesen? You’re such a negative Nellie. Chevy’s a genius. Only a genius would think of hiring Zinger to coach the Jets.”

Friesen: “That was going to be my next question, Chevy: Why did you hire Craig Heisinger as head coach? He’s a glorified jock washer, for gawd’s sake. He isn’t qualified to coach an NHL team.”

Chevy: “Why can’t people like you get past Zinger’s past as an equipment manager? So what if he used to sew and scrub jocks for a living. Zinger is a loyal soldier. He’s got a True North tattoo on his butt, just like Lawless. He’ll sell programs if we tell him to. Come to think of it…he could do that during the pre-game warmup.”

Friesen: “Why the hell would anyone want to buy a program at a Jets game? You’ve had the exact same lineup since 2014. You don’t make trades. You don’t sign free agents. You do nothing.”

Chevy: “That’s not true. Scheifele and Trouba are gone to Vancouver. Josh Morrissey is gone to Los Angeles. Nicolaj Ehlers is gone to Toronto. I’ve only had the same lineup since 2019. Now, if you’ll excuse me guys, I have to prepare for Free Agent Frenzy 2025. There are a lot of unrestricted free agents who don’t want to come to Winnipeg, and I want to make sure none of them do.”

(FOOTNOTE: I invite your comments. I do not, however, welcome some of your comments. If you believe what I’ve written is the natterings of a nincompoop and belongs at the bottom of a bird cage, let ‘er rip. Tell me why. I enjoy healthy debate. That can be fun. If, on the other hand, your idea of a critique is to attack/insult me about my gender or sexual orientation, then we aren’t going to get along. Let’s put it this way: It is permissible to question the size of my IQ, but not the size of my boobs. Bottom line: I don’t get paid to write this crap, so play nice, kids.)