Red Cards and Yellow Cards to you, you, you and my own self

Evander Kane and Kevin (Takethedayoff) Cheveldayoff need to spend some time on Planet Pinocchio.

rooftop riting biz card back sideThe World Cup is in the rear view mirror, but that doesn’t mean we have to put away the red and yellow cards. Matter of fact, I’m going to my pocket because there are some people who need to be carded…

RED CARD: To Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun/Sun Media.

I have often red-carded Little Stevie Blunder because he is, perhaps, the most red-cardable jock journalist in the land. To err is human, but this Sun scribe is never wrong. Just ask him.

I did that very thing once upon a time. Little Stevie had written that the Minnesota Vikings never were champions of the National Football League. I sent him an email, suggesting he might be mistaken.

“The Vikings have never won the Super Bowl, but did they not win the final NFL title prior to the merger with the American Football League?” I inquired. “I’m looking at the official NFL record book as I write, and it lists Minnesota as the 1969 NFL champion. Is the official NFL record book wrong, or are you wrong?”

Well, didn’t that just ruffle his not-so-pretty plummage?

Little Stevie’s response was quite snotty. Basically, he told me I was a ditz who didn’t know pigskin from porcelain and I shouldn’t let the facts get in the way of his high-and-mighty huffing and puffing. Without saying the NFL record book was wrong, he said it was wrong.

So now we have Little Stevie playing loose with history once again, this time in Major League Baseball.

Sitting to the host’s right on TSN The Reporters with Dave Hodge this past Sabbath, Little Stevie went into full bluster and told us this about Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers sensational southpaw: “His last eight starts, two no-hitters, five earned runs.”

Kershaw has one no-hitter in his entire career, not two in eight starts.

Normally, a foul of this nature would warrant only a yellow card, but Simmons gets a red card because he’s so arrogant.

pegsunRED CARD: To the Winnipeg Sun.

Why does PegSun run Little Stevie Blunder’s three-dot columns on Sundays? Too much of it is Toronto-centric. In his most-recent piece, Simmons offered 14 opinions on Tranna athletes/issues compared to just one about Winnipeg. Does anyone in River City actually care about the Raptors and the naming of a Scarborough street after Peter Zezel?

Why doesn’t PegSun have one of its own people do the column? Like Paul Friesen. Or a freelancer who’d make the thing more Peg-centric.

RED CARD: To Kevin Klein, grand poobah of MyToba.ca.

I’m sure Klein has some boffo ideas, because the MyToba.ca website is quite good. But his campaign to have Dancing Gabe Langlois inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame is not among his boffo notions. It is, in fact, a really, really dumb idea.

Klein made his plea in a May column on MyToba.ca, and asked folks to sign a petition in support. Two months later, he has 157 of his targeted 10,000 signatures.

Take the hint, Kevin: Take the story down from your website.

YELLOW CARD: To Gary (La La) Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press.

Gary La La engaged Dave Reid in one of those staged, to-and-fro chin-wags in which both voices talk loud and, often, at the same time on TSN’s That’s Hockey. Their debate focused on the merits of having either Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets or Seth Jones of the Nashville Predators as the centrepiece of your National Hockey League franchise.

“Leadership?” Gary La La said in summation. “You could slap the C on Jacob Trouba in Winnipeg right now and no one would blink.”

Yo! La La! I’m pretty certain Andrew Ladd would blink as they ripped the C off his sweater.

Jets GM Kevin Takethedayoff
Jets GM Kevin Takethedayoff

YELLOW CARD: To Jets left winger Evander Kane and general manager Kevin (Takethedayoff) Cheveldayoff.

These two need to spend some time on Planet Pinocchio. Here’s why: When Kane arrives at training camp (on time but probably not soon enough for the naysayers), the news scavengers will be circling, They will be hungry. They will be prepared to pick at his bones. This will be their first volley:

“Do you want to be here in Winnipeg, Evander?”

This will be the central theme throughout training exercises—and into the NHL season—unless the polarizing player and the pulseless GM stop talking in circles about Kane’s life expectancy with the Jets.

Kane and Cheveldayoff need to do what most hockey people do—lie. The next time Kane is asked if he’s happy in Pegtown, he must say, “Yes.” When Cheveldayoff is asked if he is attempting to peddle his sometimes petulant player’s posterior to the highest bidder, he must say, “No.”

You and I will know both their noses are growing and their pants are on fire, but their big, fat fibs ought to curb the controversy. We then can move on to more pressing training camp issues. Like the size of Dustin Byfuglien’s girth.

YELLOW CARD: To local newsies for sticking their microphones and notepads under Dale Hawerchuk’s nose to get his take on the Kane situation.

Exactly what did the scavengers expect Ducky to say? That Winnipeg is a cesspool? That Kane should run for the hills?

There’s no suggestion that the Jets legend was anything less than sincere when he endorsed good, ol’ Hometown as a swell place to spend an NHL career, but come on, people. That’s not a fresh slant on a touchy issue. It’s not news. It’s True North propaganda.

YELLOW CARD: To my very own self because of what I scribbled about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for The Huddle Magazine last September.

“Be afraid, kids. Be very afraid. Here’s why. What transpired at Football Follies Field in Fort Garry on Friday night might have been a preview of the 2014 Canadian Football League season.

Keep in mind that your Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be keeping company with B.C., Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan next year, so the 53-17 paddy whacking the B.C. Lions laid on the locals could become the rule rather than the exception.

Scary thought, isn’t it?

I mean, if you’re the bottom feeder in the CFL East Division, what’s going to happen when you’re running with the big dogs in the West Division? Well, here’s a hint: The Bombers are 1-6 vs. West outfits in 2013 and they’ve been outscored 238-145 for a per game average of 34-20. So batten the hatches and hide all the women and children.

Oh, I suppose a lot will change between now and next July. Maybe the Bombers will find a general manager. Maybe they’ll find a head coach who knows where the Xs and Os belong on the offensive side of the football. Maybe they’ll find a quarterback who doesn’t give the ball away like candy on Halloween. Maybe they’ll find some large lads who can pass block. Maybe they’ll find some receivers who don’t have alligator arms in traffic. Maybe they’ll find someone who can kick a field goal.

And maybe I’ll be Miss Grey Cup 2013.”

Well, our football heroes are 3-and-oh and atop the Canadian Football League West Division standings.

D’oh!

(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.)

Young Eddie Tait: My ‘pizza boy’ is a slice above the rest of the River City sports scribes

If there’s a more respected sports scribe in Winnipeg than Ed Tait, I don’t know who it might be. He’s the best of the best, whether he’s writing about the Winnipeg Jets, the Blue Bombers or something on the periphery. No one in Pegtown does it better than Young Eddie.

rooftop riting biz card back sideNot always, but often when I read a quality piece of scribbling by Ed Tait, like his work in today’s Winnipeg Free Press, I think of pizza. A $10 pizza.

It was during the 1990s, you see, when I carried the burden and misfortune of being sports editor at the Winnipeg Sun. Actually, upon reflection, I suppose it wasn’t all that bad, because I had young Eddie and a couple of other good foot soldiers on my staff, but it was a burden, nonetheless.

Anyway, I had dispatched Young Eddie to North Dakota (the specific assignment escapes me, but I believe it was either high school or college hockey). It was a weekend gig, and his first road trip. Ever. He was geeked up, understandly so because this is a significant and signature moment in the life of a greenhorn sports scribe. I don’t recall giving him extravagant or detailed directives, other than to get the story, enjoy himself and come home safely.

“And keep your receipts,” I emphasized. “You’ll need them for your expense report.”

So I’m sitting at the desk in the closet-sized cubbyhole that passed for my office on the second floor of the Sun building when Young Eddie returned from the fray.

“How did it go?” I asked.

“Great,” he answered with the enthusiasm and innocence of freshly scrubbed youth and his boyish charm. “Had loads of fun.”

“Nice. Very nice. You did a great job. We’ll have to get you on the road again. When you’ve got time, fill out your expense form and make sure you include your receipts.”

He left and, scant seconds later, Young Eddie was back in my bunker.

“Here,” he said, handing me the lid from a pizza box.

“What’s this?” I said as I stared at a rumpled piece of cardboard with tomato sauce stains.

“That’s what I ate.”

“That’s it? That’s all you ate for the entire weekend? One pizza?”

“No, but…”

“How much did it cost?”

“Ten bucks.”

“You spent $10 for the entire weekend? Just $10?”

“No, but…”

To this day, I have no notion what else Young Eddie shoved down his throat that weekend, but I have my suspicions that a few bags of chips and Big Gulps were on the menu. He probably splurged on two or three packs of bubblegum, too.

“I remember,” he told me in an email exhange this morning. “My expense reports have changed since then. Steve (Freep sports editor Lyons) has told me I don’t need to put in the receipts from 7-11 for all the Doritos, Gobstoppers, etc.”

Too funny.

I don’t tell this story to bring any level of embarrassment to Young Eddie. I loved working with him. He made my two tours of duty as sports editor palatable and, on those occasions when we collaborated on out-of-town assignments, he was an absolute joy and a boffo traveling companion. We had a great many guffaws.

If there’s a more respected sports scribe in Winnipeg than Young Eddie, I don’t know who it might be. He’s the best of the best, whether he’s writing about the Winnipeg Jets, the Blue Bombers or something on the periphery. No one in Pegtown does it better than Young Eddie. And I’ll tell you something else about him: As good a sports scribe as he is, he’s even a better person. I’m sure his bride, Kathi, and their lads, Wyatt and Finn, would agree.

So you want to read his terrific piece in today’s Freep about Matt Dunigan’s 713-yard passing game with the Blue Bombers 20 years ago. Like Dunigan in that match vs. the Edmonton Eskimos, Young Eddie is at the top of his game.

Dunigan, of course, is the centrepiece of the article, but Eddie tracked down some of the QB’s accomplices and he includes a delightful anecdote from Chris Walby, who was honored for participating in his 200th Canadian Football League game in Bombers linen that night at the ol’ ballyard on Maroons Road.

It’s the sort of feature stuff I’d like to see more often in both the Freep and the Winnipeg Sun.

(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.)

Corsi and Fenwick: What the *%&$#* are QoC eTOI% and QoT TOI% F rel supposed to mean?

So, who are Corsi and Fenwick? Do they have first names? Or are they like Brazilian soccer players and Madonna?

rooftop riting biz card back sideI have a confession to make: I’m old school.

I’m so old school that I sometimes think I was on the work crew that helped Don Cherry build the old school.

I mean, I still call a chalk board a black board. To me, the word “hip” means something other than one of my many body parts that requires replacing. I don’t listen to music unless it includes a turntable, a needle and a thin slab of round vinyl. I’m still having difficulty with the notion that the Cubs play night games, that the 1970s are over and that Hedberg and Nilsson left Winnipeg for Gotham.

That doesn’t mean I live in the past. Nor does the past live in me. It isn’t that I’m anti-progress or anti-change (lord knows I fully embrace change). It’s just that I’m a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to new-fangled thingamajigs.

So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m having difficulty with these Corsi and Fenwick dudes.

For the longest time, I was quite curious about Corsi and Fenwick. It was a curiosity that bordered on fascination. I’d never seen them. I just kept reading and hearing about them. All…the…time.

I figured Corsi and Fenwick were finalists for the Hart Trophy and every other significant National Hockey League award. After all, they’d been mentioned in every shinny story written in the past half dozen years. I kept waiting for them to arrive on the red carpet at the NHL awards gala last month in Vegas, but they were no-shows. I was quite disappointed because I wanted to see what their dates were wearing.

That was quite presumptuous of me, though. Why would I assume that they had dates? Female dates. For all I knew, Corsi and Fenwick were a couple of gay dudes. Perhaps partners.

Naw. Couldn’t be that. We all know there aren’t any gay dudes in hockey (even though we all know there are gay dudes in hockey).

So, who were Corsi and Fenwick? Did they have first names? Or were they like Brazilian soccer players and Madonna and Shakira?

Hockey people and media types have long been in constant debate about Corsi and Fenwick. Take Steve Simmons of Sun Media (please, take him). He scoffs at, and heaps scorn upon, anyone who suggests Corsi and Fenwick are what hockey is all about today. My friends at Arctic Ice Hockey, on the other hand, are convinced that Corsi and Fenwick are the be-all, end all. Corsi and Fenwick do it all.

I figure if Corsi and Fenwick are that bloody good, the Winnipeg Jets should make a play for them. Give me Corsi, Fenwick and a first-round draft pick and I’ll give you Evander Kane. I’ll even toss in a player to be named later, as long as that player’s name is Ondrej Pavelec.

Well, we can’t make that trade because it turns out that Corsi and Fenwick aren’t hockey players. They don’t even have a pulse. (You know, much like Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.)

Corsi and Fenwick are fancy numbers. They are advanced stats. They are analytics. I’m supposed to look at Corsi and Fenwick and they’ll tell me everything from how often Jacob Trouba has the puck to how often and when Dustin Byfuglien takes a lunch break.

When I look at Corsi and Fenwick, though, it’s all Greek to me. It looks like something out of the Wall Street Journal, not The Hockey News.

Seriously. QoC eTOI% and QoT TOI% F rel are supposed to mean something to me? An old school girl who was weaned on plus/minus numbers?

I suppose QoC ETOI% and QoT TOI%F rel would make sense if I followed the stock markets.

“QoC eTOI% shares were up .25 at closing, but QoT TOI% F rel dipped .50 and is in free fall. Meanwhile, NZShr, DZS% and TMSh% made significant gains on both the TSE and on Wall Street.”

Quite frankly, I liked it a whole lot better when I thought Corsi and Fenwick were hockey players.

But that doesn’t mean I pooh-pooh fancy stats and the people who endorse and use them. I salute the numbers nerds who devised the stats, and I’m quite certain they have merit.

Let’s put it this way: All I need to know about fancy stats is that Steve Simmons thinks they’re stupid. That convinces me they’re brilliant.

(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: Almost two years later, nothing has changed for Evander Kane

If there’s been one constant since this National Hockey League franchise moved to River City from Atlanta, it has been Evander Kane-bashing.

rooftop riting biz card back side(Editor’s Note: While sifting through my archives during a bout of research, I came across this piece I penned in December 2012 for Arctic Ice Hockey. It underscores how little life in Winnipeg has changed for Evander Kane in the past 19 months.)

I’m afraid the Kane scrutiny will never end. Not as long as Evander Kane wears Winnipeg Jets linen, it won’t.

That’s why at some point Kane will walk into general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s office and say, “You have to get me out of this hell. I can’t take it anymore.”

He might already be there emotionally. Kane and Winnipeg, you see, are not a happy marriage.

A large portion of the fan base have not warmed to Kane. I doubt they ever will. It matters not how productive he is on the ice. Judging by the fierce, intense reaction to his posting of playful pics from Vegas and previous perceptions of the 21-year-old left winger, it’s painfully apparent that Kane is going to get crapped on from high heights if he so much as picks his nose in public.

In the most simplistic terms, fans just don’t like him.

Local news scavengers, meanwhile, never avoid an opportunity to slice and dice Kane.

Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press is the leader of the Poison Pen Posse. He describes Kane as “a distraction the Jets will eventually determine is tiresome,” and the day will arrive when the Jets “will want to run.”

Well, you don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict that Kane no longer will be wearing a Jets jersey one day. That’s like saying there’ll be snow in Winnipeg in January. The fact is, the vast majority of players do not go wire-to-wire with their original outfits. Of the top 30 scorers in NHL history, only four started and finished with his original club—Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Stan Mikita.

So, yes, Kane will be moved. It might be the day after Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr kiss and make up. It might be a day before the next NHL lockout. But I say Kane wants out of Dodge before the Jets/fans/media run him out.

Who could blame him?

I mean, not since former Blue Bombers quarterback Dieter Brock made a flippant, harmless comment about the Assiniboine Park zoo has a River City jock been subjected to such scorn for doing or saying something so inoffensive away from the playing surface. Something that doesn’t impact on anyone else’s life. Fans and media rag on Kane for supposedly dining and dashing, for silly Twitter tweets, for supposedly getting into barroom brawls and now for posting goof-off pics from Vegas.

If there’s been one constant since this National Hockey League franchise moved to River City from Atlanta, it has been Kane-bashing.

So, what is Kane supposed to think? Try this: “I’m 21, the fans hate me, the media hates me…is this what my life’s going to be like for the next 15 years? Well, no thanks, I’ll pass.”

I’ll tell you what and who this reminds me of: The Toronto Maple Leafs, Humpty Harold Ballard and Laurie Boschman.

You might recall that Boschman was a highly regarded talent when he graduated from the Brandon Wheat Kings. So impressed were the Leafs, they plucked him ninth overall in the 1979 Entry Draft. His first two seasons were unremarkable, and he struggled mightily in 1981-82. That’s when Ballard, the Leafs’ bankroll, began to blow hard, threatening to dispatch Boschman to the minors.

Humpty Harold, of course, was always harrumphing about something. One day it would be “commies” and the next it would be women being good for just one thing: “Lying on their backs.”

In Boschman’s case, it was the Bible. Yes, being a born-again Christian was a sin in Ballard’s little mind. Boschman had “too much religion” and it made him “soft.” Big buffoon Ballard conveniently ignored the fact that Boschman had been battling mononucleosis and blood poisoning. Humpty Harold had the kid was a Bible-thumper, period. Many fans bought into Ballard’s bluster and, eventually, Boschman had it up to his chin whiskers with the taunting and torment. He asked for a trade and was accomodated. He went to the Edmonton Oilers, then the Jets, where he had a most productive career.

No one in Winnipeg remembers Boschman as a “soft” player. Soft-spoken and sincere away from the freeze, he was a right nasty bit of business once they dropped the puck.

But it was never going to work for him in Toronto.

Same thing with Kane in Winnipeg.

And that’s a shame, because Kane is going to be a very good player for a very long time.

(Editor’s Footnote: Do I still think Kane will be traded? Absolutely. As I stated, precious few NHL players spend their entire career with one franchise. I don’t think Kane will be one of them.)

(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: Headlines and scandal ‘R’ Evander

rooftop riting biz card back sideOh, woe is Evander Kane. The poor guy opens his mouth and another 72-point newspaper headline pops out.

Doesn’t matter if he’s in Vancouver, Las Vegas, Toronto, River City or at the barber shop, the Winnipeg Jets left winger attracts attention like Ondrej Pavelec gives up goals. Has it been fair? Has the mainstream media in Winnipeg given Kane a fair shake? Of course not! I mean, a haircut is news? Unpaid parking tickets is news? A selfie is news? Not reporting to training camp three days early is news?

And it’s about to get worse, folks!

My spies in the Winnipeg Free Press newsroom tell me the paper is working on the following scandalous stories about Kane and, as you shall see, the headlines have already been written…

  • Winnipeg drinking water still brown—Kane refuses to turn it into white wine!
  • Kane defies city bylaw…sings and dances on bus!
  • Hawerchuk praises Winnipeg; Kane still refuses to buy home in North End!
  • Kane visits Journey to Churchill display at zoo; complains because polar bears aren’t black!
  • Manitoba still Slurpee Capital of Canada; Kane’s never had one!
  • Chintzy Kane makes $6 million; only gives $4 million to charity!
  • Southern Manitoba on flood alert; Kane won’t help sand bagging efforts!
  • Mosquitos infest Winnipeg; why is Kane in Vancouver?
  • New evidence discovered: Kane responsible for Wagon Wheel and Kelekis restaurant closures (didn’t eat enough)!
  • Kane stops at Into the Music—tells clerk “the Guess Who and Neil Young suck!”
  • Kane scores 50th goal, still hasn’t found cure for cancer!
  • Kane has lunch at the Sals—says cheese nip is “worst burger ever!”

Meanwhile, at the tabloid Winnipeg Sun, shinny scribes are digging up dirt on Kane’s antics inside the Jets’ sanctuary at the Little Hockey House on the Prairie. My sources tell me they are about to blow the lid off a Kane coverup, whereby team officials are hiding the fact that Kane has been in serious and continual violation of certain club rules. The Sun will reveal these are his team-related infractions:

  • Kane wouldn’t stop when head coach Paul Maurice told him to quit making farting sounds with his arm pit during a team meeting.
  • Kane rolled his eyes and groaned, “Oh, no, not him again!” when Ondrej Pavelec was announced as the starting goaltender.
  • Kane refused to give an exclusive interview to the Official Newsletter of True North Sports & Entertainment, also known as the Winnipeg Free Press.
  • Kane parked in the spot reserved for Mark Chipman.
  • Kane insulted Dancing Gabe…said he dances like a white guy.
  • Kane replaced a picture of Claude Noel with one of Paul Maurice on the team dart board.
  • Kane stole Dustin Byfuglien’s lunch money.
  • Kane refused to shout “True North!” during the singing of O Canada.

(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: 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.)