For outsiders, the moment might have been a bit anticlimactic. True North Sports and Entertainment executive Mark Chipman casually slipped “Jets” into Winnipeg’s team name before the team announced their first pick, confirming the rumors in the least bombastic way possible. Many probably believe that the new Jets were guilty of a “reach” with their first-ever first round draft as well, stunning some by selecting Mark Scheifele.
It was tough to elicit much more than a yawn when Scheifele was handed a ceremonial jersey, too. Instead of taking the opportunity to unveil an expected logo and uniform change, the Jets handed their first pick a generic jersey with the NHL logo. Perhaps it was a matter of red tape, but it left many people wondering about a missed marketing opportunity.
That being said, Jets fans (aka the group of people True North care about the most) probably don’t care that much; they are too busy celebrating the return of the NHL to their hockey-starved market. Many media members remarked that Minnesota felt more like Winnipeg tonight as “Go Jets Go” chants cascaded through the Xcel Energy Center. At times, the 2011 NHL Entry draft was another excuse to celebrate this dream-turned-reality for Winnipeg hockey fans.
True North made the move official, decided to name the team the Jets, added their new general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, hired their new coach Claude Noel and made Scheifele their first top pick in one break-neck month of activity. Now if they could just unveil those new sweaters …
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Detroit Red Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can stream the game online here.
The Lightning made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but their journey almost ended in the first round at the hands of the Red Wings. Detroit shutout Tampa Bay twice in that series and the two squads were locked in a scoreless tie until the third period of Game 7.
Despite the fact that the Red Wings were a mere hair away from advancing instead of Tampa Bay, the Lightning are often mentioned as serious Cup contenders while Detroit is typically regarded as a good, but not amazing team. However, that gap isn’t entirely unjustified.
After all, Tampa Bay has a very effective core of forwards that features Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. If the highly regarded Jonathan Drouin, 20, is able to build off of his strong start to the 2015-16 campaign then the Lightning’s offense could be even more dangerous this season.
Detroit certainly has some offensive star power too in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but the duo is 35 and 37 years old respectively. On top of that, injuries have been a recurring issue for Datsyuk, who isn’t expected to make his season debut until November after undergoing ankle surgery.
As good as those two forwards still are, the Red Wings have to hope that their younger players will be able to lead the charge sooner rather than later. The good news is that 19-year-old Dylan Larkin‘s campaign is off to a strong start with three points in two games while 23-year-old Teemu Pulkkinen scored twice on Saturday.
The Red Wings have opened the season with back-to-back wins against Toronto and Carolina, but tonight’s game represents their biggest test to date. Meanwhile, the Lightning are similarly undefeated after three games, but this contest will be particularly trying for them given that it’s their third game in four days.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Although Connor McDavid‘s NHL career has only just gotten started, is he already the league’s most important player? (Sportsnet)
While we’re on the subject of McDavid, what should we expect from him for the remainder of his rookie campaign? (NHL Numbers)
Jack Jablonski was paralyzed on Dec. 30, 2011 at the age of 16 while playing high school hockey, but that hasn’t ended his pursuit of a career in hockey. He’s spent the last two years hosting a weekly hockey-talk radio program and has now joined the Los Angeles Kings as a communications intern. (Orange County Register)
Arizona State has earned its first NCAA victory. (Arizona Republic)
The 2015 Calder Cup champion Manchester Monarchs got their rings. (LA Kings Insider)
The Anaheim Ducks and the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave 13-year-old Kai Quinonez, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia four years ago, a tremendous experience. (Orange County Register)