Back on May 1, after the Winnipeg Jets had missed the playoffs for the second straight time in their new city, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was non-committal when asked about a contract extension for head coach Claude Noel, whose three-year deal has one year left on it.
Almost a month later, there’s still no news on that front, and that has Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gary Lawless calling for Noel to either get an extension or start looking for a new job.
Coaches in the last year of a contract are always in danger of being tuned out and it’s not unfair to imagine this group doing just that to Noel the first time they hit a skid.
The Jets are only effective when they play the way Noel wants, but it’s hard work that drives his scheme. Physical and mental efforts requiring daily commitment. This group hasn’t shown the willingness to provide this mindset each and every day.
Some days they do and some days they don’t. A coach without the appearance of management’s backing only gives them an easy excuse or way out at the first sign of heavy lifting.
It’s possible the Jets bring back Noel without an extension, despite the above arguments against. If the season starts well, an extension could be granted then.
It’s also possible they hire a new bench boss, like former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.
The Jets could even be stalling in the event (unlikely, we’d say) that Sharks coach Todd McLellan or Chicago’s Joel Quenneville becomes available.
The future of Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett is up in the air, too.
But we’ll give the last word to Lawless:
Putting a $500,000-a-year coach in a room with every player making more money — and some as much as ten times more per season — is a difficult enough assignment. Leaving him unarmed without any security is like slapping meat cologne on him and throwing him in a cage with a pride of lions. They’ll tear him apart.