The Winnipeg Jets might not be killing it in the standings,* but the return of the NHL is producing promising results, as you can see in this article by Kevin McGran.
Such a point might seem painfully obvious until you realize that there was some doubt that there wouldn’t be that big of a bump for the city since they already benefited from packed buildings via the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. (This is Canada, after all.)
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz says that there’s been a serious bump in tangible and emotional ways, even if there aren’t many official numbers yet.
“Where we have phenomenal growth is people deciding to live downtown, something we’ve always wanted,” Katz said. “That was happening before, but the Jets continue it. But from my point of view, the greatest benefit that’s hard to measure is the feeling people have being back in the NHL. Everybody is talking about it, everybody is excited.”
Jets coach Claude Noel described relocating from Atlanta to Winnipeg as a “hidden thing” that has taken a toll on some players, but believes that the adjustment period is over.
If you ask a lot of people in Winnipeg, the return of the NHL has made a far-from-hidden impact on the city. Just imagine if the franchise could upgrade the Jets from a bubble contender to a genuine playoff team, then …
* – The negativity regarding their current state seems a little excessive, though, if you ask me. The Jets began January with a four-game road swing, had four of six in Winnipeg and then went on a six-game road trip. Starting in mid-February, the Jets will play eight games in a row at home. If they flub that, then go ahead and beat up on the young team.
Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.
Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.
The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.
“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.
Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.
The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.
“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?