Time for a reality check, kids.
I realize you’re all giddy about the package of prospects Grand Master Kevin Cheveldayoff and his bird dogs collected this weekend in the sunshine of Sunrise, Fla., but I have this real nasty (some call it annoying) habit of providing a pinch of perspective to all things Winnipeg Jets. Thus, I feel obligated to remind you that, come October when the local lads commence their 2015-16 crusade, no player in the opening-night lineup will be named Kyle Connor or Jack Roslovic.
There will, however, be a winger named Chris Thorburn. And most likely another named Anthony Peluso.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to use Thorburn and Peluso (the former more than the latter) as measuring sticks vis-a-vis the growth of the National Hockey League franchise, on-ice division. The way I have it figured, as long as either is wearing Jets linen, he is clogging the club’s developmental arteries.
I mean, Grand Master Chevy has been working this gig since the Atlanta caravan rolled into River City in 2011. He’s been the overseer of five NHL entry drafts. He has laid claim to 38 freshly scrubbed wannabe Jets, including the aforementioned Connor and Roslovic this weekend. Each year he leaves the annual garage sale to a hail of hosannas (mainly from his lap dogs in the local media) for his handiwork in adding another set of trinkets to his collection of teenage talent.
And yet we are left with Chris Thorburn and Anthony Peluso. Still.
The fact that not one of the Grand Master’s recruits has been capable of kicking Thorburn or Peluso to the curb leaves me to wonder if the scouting staff is found to be wanting, or if the coaching crew requires a session with Dr. Phil.
Feel free to discuss among yourselves.
A Gift from Sweeney Odd: Don’t run off with the notion that I’m sour on Grand Master Chevy’s fancy footwork in Florida.
I realize this June crap shoot is all about stocking the organizational Hope Chest and not meant to address present-day needs. And, by most reckoning, Chevy and his bird dogs did boffo business.
Let’s be honest, though. Because the Jets GM tried and failed to move up in the entry draft pecking order, he was at the mercy of the 14 outfits handing out jerseys and ball caps before his first call. The selection of Kyle Connor with the 17th shoutout was not a stroke of genius. It was Christmas morning.
Seriously. The only thing Don (D’oh!) Sweeney didn’t do for the Jets was wrap a ribbon around the American schoolboy. The Boston Bruins newly minted GM, hereafter known as Sweeney Odd, had a shot at Connor with No. 13. He passed. He had a shot with No. 14. He passed. He had a shot at No. 15. He passed. We can only assume that Sweeney Odd’s mind had fogged over after dealing away Dougie Hamilton and the Looch, Milan Lucic, and he awoke the morning after the draft asking, “I did what?”
Whatever the case, Kyle Connor was an unexpected gift from Beantown, which is why this thing is a crap shoot. (Apparently, there’s no truth to the rumor that Grand Master Chevy pulled a hamstring running to the stage after Garth Snow of the New York Islanders also passed on Connor with the 16th pick.)
Stars ‘n’ Gripes: Some patriotic noses might be out of joint in Jets Nation because the club is beginning to look as American as John Wayne movies and apple pie.
Well, just chill.
I mean, adding four U.S.-born draftees (Connor, Roslovic, Erik Foley and Mason Appleton) doesn’t convince me that Grand Master Chevy has hatched some sort of diabolical plot to satisfy a fetish for Uncle Sam’s lads. This isn’t like Mikhail Smith’s make-work-for-Russians project in the 1980s, whereby the GM of the day attempted to transform the roster into the Central Red Jets (where have you gone, Sergei Bautin?).
There’s substantial supporting evidence that suggests Americans play the game at a rather lofty level (hello, Patrick Kane). To ignore them would be folly.
Draft Day Notable Quotable: “The No. 1 characteristic of a Toronto Maple Leaf is a good human being. Period. So if you don’t fit that, you’re not going to be here,” says bench boss Mike Babcock.
What are we to make of that when Phil Kessel is given his marching orders?
Typing-Before-Thinking Tweets: This from Steve Simmons of Sun Media on possible NHL expansion—“Just what no real hockey fan asked for: Expansion.”
Really? I’m sure the good people in Quebec City who have been involved in an ongoing crusade to bring the NHL back to Le Ville will be disappointed to discover that they aren’t “real” hockey fans.
This from Damien Cox of Sportsnet after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup—“Best era of Chicago hockey I’ve seen, even the best Hull years.”
Unless he was watching the Blackhawks from his mother’s womb, his crib or during nap time at day care, it’s a serious stretch for Cox to pass himself off as an eye witness to the “best” of anything re Chicago and Bobby Hull. Cox, you see, wasn’t even on his mother’s breast when the Hawks won the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1961. He was born in August that year, four months after the fact. The Blackhawks also visited the Stanley Cup final in ’62 and ’65, at which time Cox would have been eight months and three years old, respectively.
Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.