There are a wide variety of ways to describe the Atlanta Thrashers’ metamorphosis into the Winnipeg Jets (scorned Thrashers fans would probably share the most colorful descriptions). Yet amid all the discussions about the team’s new logo, front office moves and other changes, people often overlook just how sudden this change really has been – maybe because the city has been waiting so long for the NHL’s return.
Then again, it’s not as if hockey is totally new to True North Sports and Entertainment, the company that runs the new Winnipeg Jets. They probably put together a preliminary plan or two when their flirtations with the Phoenix Coyotes reached its greatest heights. True North also ran hockey teams at the IHL and AHL levels during the NHL’s absence.
In a way, their two month scramble could probably compare to the NFL’s lockout-shortened training camp challenges. On one hand, many of the pieces of a team were already in place and much of the Jets’ front office would carry over from the Manitoba Moose. That being said, the organization dealt with quite a “to do list” that probably keeps them from soaking in the significance of bringing the NHL back to Winnipeg, something Jets chairman Mike Chipman discussed with Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press.
“I’ll be honest, we’ve missed a lot of the reaction and we really haven’t had a lot of time to daydream,” Chipman admitted. “But every now and again the reality hits you that we’re playing the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 9th and you picture how that’s going to look and feel. It’s fun to contemplate on those things but we don’t get the chance to dwell on them for a long period of time because we’ve got everybody going flat-out right now.
“But I don’t want to give you the impression that we’re so overwhelmed here that people are frantic. It’s not that way at all. I mean, it’s very busy, but it’s also very controlled or measured. Everybody’s going real hard, but it’s work that people like to do. When we first got into the business 15 years ago there was really no chance to exhale. Paint was drying on the walls when we opened up.
“Our people enjoy the process,” Chipman added.
“This is what we’ve been living for and working towards for a long time.”
The Jets and Winnipeg will probably be in honeymoon mode through a big chunk of the multi-year commitments that fans made by snatching up season ticket plans. That being said, every move True North makes will be scrutinized because it would be devastating for that small market to lose the NHL again. They will probably be too busy preparing for the team’s season opener against the Montreal Canadiens on October 9 to really follow the criticisms anyway, though.
Perseverance paid off for the San Jose Sharks.
Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, pushing home a loose puck on Brian Elliott after Joe Thornton was unable to convert on the breakaway seconds before.
For Pavelski, that’s his league-leading 13th goal of these playoffs.
The Sharks can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a win tonight.
San Jose increased its lead to two goals, as Joel Ward capitalized early in the second period.
The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have made a trade — and it’s a big one.
As per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the two main components are forward Jared McCann, who just completed his rookie season with the Canucks, and 24-year-old defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who has played five seasons with the Florida Panthers.
Here are the details:
McCann is the second draft selection of the Jim Benning-Trevor Linden era, taken 24th overall in 2014. As a 19-year-old rookie armed with a big-league wrist shot, he scored nine goals and 18 points while averaging 12:31 of ice time per game in 69 games.
The Canucks had the option of sending McCann back to junior last season and not burning a year of his entry-level deal, but they chose to keep him in Vancouver for the entire year.
One particular aspect of his development, particularly this off-season, was a need to get physically stronger, which was something that could be exposed at times in the defensive end against bigger forwards.
Gudbranson, selected third overall in 2010 and signed to a one-year, $3.5 million extension earlier this month, certainly gives the Canucks size on the back end at six-foot-five-inches tall, a physical presence and a right shot on the blue line, but he has managed only 13 points as a single-season career best and that was in 2014-15.
The Canucks also gave up two picks in this year’s draft.
It has been an Eastern Conference Final full of twists and turns in the plot.
Exhibit A: The goaltending situation for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.
That began right away, in the first period of Game 1 when Ben Bishop was stretchered off the ice with a lower-body injury. Since then, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been The Guy for the Lightning, which will face the Penguins in a Game 7, winner-take-all contest, in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Of the many storylines heading into this contest, one that stands out is it’s expected to be a goaltending duel between the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy and the Matt Murray, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday.
(Remember when Penguins coach Mike Sullivan went with Marc-Andre Fleury to start over Murray in Game 5, only to switch back to Murray for a must-win Game 6? Another plot twist.)
Bolts head coach Jon Cooper had previously left the door open to the possibility that Bishop could return in this series. On Wednesday, however, he told reporters he’ll meet with his staff but does not anticipate Bishop being in for Game 7.
“I think Andrei is the big reason we’re in Game 7,” said Cooper.
“He’s made big save after big save for us. The one thing that I do like that’s happened to him finally in this series is, you know, he finally started a playoff game and won, whereas his other playoff wins were always in relief, and he’s won in Pittsburgh. So you’ve got to like the kid feels pretty comfortable playing there, and we like that.”
The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.
You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch
On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott
The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko
Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday