So, the dreamy-eyed romantics in the Rose-Colored Room have read the tea leaves and the Winnipeg Jets shall qualify for the Stanley Cup tournament if…
- If Mark Scheifele avoids a sophomore slump and becomes a force of nature in his second National Hockey League season.
- Ditto Jacob Trouba.
- If Ondrej Pavelec becomes the second coming of Dominik Hasek.
- If Michael Hutchinson is a legitimate NHL goaltender when Pavelec stumbles.
- If Paul Maurice, who twice was fired and whose teams missed the playoffs nine times in his 13 complete seasons behind an NHL bench, morphs into Scotty Bowman, Toe Blake and Mike Babcock.
- If Zach Bogosian finally realizes his immense potential and plays on par with studs like Drew Doughty and Shea Weber, or at least becomes a reasonable facsimile.
- If Evander Kane scores more goals than every player on Planet Puckhead who isn’t named Steven Stamkos or Ovie.
- If Mathieu Perreault is not Olli Jokinen.
- If no core players are injured for lengthy stretches.
- If the Colorado Avalanche are frauds.
- Ditto the Minnesota Wild.
- If the bottom four teams in the Pacific Division continue to flat-line.
I shall not dispute any of this. If it all transpires as the dreamy-eyed romantics in the Rose-Colored Room would have it, the Jets will close regular-season business no worse than fifth in the Central precinct and there shall be meaningful games played at the Little Hockey House on the Prairie in late April. I believe all in Jets Nation hope they’re right.
But (you knew, of course, that I was about to hit you with a big, bad but)…
You’re talking the perfect storm here. You’re talking about a universe unfolding in such a way that there is not a single misstep. Nary a one. Is this possible? I suppose it is. It’s also possible that TMZ will go the next seven months without reporting on a scandal. It’s possible that Winnipeg’s new mayor (hello, Brian Bowman) will build a bubble around River City to keep winter out. It’s possible that Charlie Sheen will…oh, never mind.
As much as I would like to link arms, light candles and sing Kumbaya with the romantics as the Jets embark on their latest crusade tonight against the formerly bankrupt, formerly orphaned, formerly Phoenix-now-Arizona Desert Dogs, I cannot.
Sorry, but we’re dealing with too many “ifs” here. “If” is the operative word for the Jets. If this happens…if that happens…if so-and-so can do this…if so-and-so can do that.
The biggest if of a dozen ifs is, of course, between the goal posts. Only elite-level ‘tending will pave a path to post-season participation, and Pavelec has done nothing to convince anyone—other than GM Kevin (The Possum) Cheveldayoff and coach PoMo—that he stands among the NHL’s tall timber. He does not pass the numbers test. He does not pass the eye test.
Apparently Pavelec had a good summer, though. Oh joy. I’m happy for him. The thing is, he has to have a great winter if we want to be talking about spring hockey.
Is that too big of an if? Yup. The Playoff Nazi says: No playoffs for you!
Living in La La Land
In this edition of Fish Wrap, we direct your attention to Gary (La La) Lawless, the flip, flop and fly columnist with the Winnipeg Free Press.
On April 2, under the headline “Status quo won’t do,” he wrote: “Losing can’t go on forever and there must be a day of reckoning. It has arrived. It’s time to give the Jets’ core group of players a boost, to trade a major part for a few smaller ones in order to supplement the talented heart of this team and help them reach their potential.
“It’s time to push the whole package along a bit and make tomorrow come quicker. Draft and develop is the right strategy, but that doesn’t mean the Jets can’t put a little booster in their fuel and speed the process along.
“(We’ve) been watching this movie for a while and are ready for a different ending.”
Today, under the headline “Quick fix unlikely for Jets,” he writes: “The smart guys who poke the Jets for not making enough racy transactions blithely ignore (the) facts.
“If you’re teaching a child to ride a bike and they fall off once, do you throw out the bike? Fall off twice, throw out the child? No, you stick to it and eventually have to chase a runaway stream of pigtails or turned-around baseball cap as the kid goes screaming down the street.
“The Jets aren’t ready to run away from anything. But the plan is progressing. No need to throw anything away just yet.”
So, seven months ago, the day of reckoning had arrived. It was time to trade “a major part.” Today, not so much. There’s “no need to throw anything away.” Hmmm. Seems to me Dr. Flip and Mr. Flop forgot to compare notes before hitting the print button.
Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg hockey and the Jets for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of hockey knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old, comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she doesn’t know when to quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for literary contributions to the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C.