The Winnipeg Jets won’t be participating in the playoffs for the second straight season — the sixth straight, if you go back to the Atlanta Thrashers days.
For some, that trend is getting annoying.
“I’m sick of going home right now and I think we have lot of guys that are sick of going home right now,” forward Blake Wheeler told the Winnipeg Sun. “I’m going to have a hard time drawing on any positives, when you’re going home and watching the important hockey being played from your couch again.
“That’s going to be tough to swallow.”
Wheeler’s been with the organization since the Atlanta days and knows what he’s missing out on.
He qualified for the playoffs in each of his first two seasons in the NHL — with Boston — and isn’t alone in postseason experience.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd has won a pair of Stanley Cups, one with defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (in Chicago). Kyle Wellwood’s played in 40 playoff contests and Mark Stuart’s played in over 20.
In short, the Jets are reaching a point where having great fans and playing an entertaining style simply isn’t enough anymore.
The team struggled mightily in some key areas (25th in goals against, 23rd on the penalty kill, 22nd in faceoff percentage), which essentially kept it out of a playoff spot.
All eight playoff teams in the East finished with a positive goals for/goals against differential.
Winnipeg finished minus-16.
Wheeler tried to stay positive in his outlook for the future, but acknowledged things need to improve.
“Hopefully, we can all look in the mirror and make a change,” he explained. “I think we’re on the right path.
“But ninth-place is a first-class ticket home again.”