While a playoff berth isn’t an impossible goal from a mathematical standpoint, last night’s heartbreaking loss to the Ottawa Senators seemingly crushed the Winnipeg Jets’ postseason dreams. Even with the lure of an improved draft position now a possible (if unspoken) option, Jets coach Claude Noel told Ken Wiebe that they’re not just going to roll over and quit.
“We have targets,” Noel said. “Players have pride and they’ve competed their whole lives, so I don’t see motivation as an issue. We have to stay focused on our targets and you always have things to play for. There are always goals and you can always get better. To me, there’s no reason to step back, that’s just unacceptable and that’s not what you do when you compete and you’re in athletics.”
In what’s believed to be a good 2012 draft, it might make sense for some teams to subtly “accept” defeat, but there are reasons why the Jets are in a different spot. For one thing, they have huge crowds to please, which puts them at odds with many other clubs whose fans might not be thrilled to watch a team go through the end of the season.
“The easy way out is to say that it’s kind of demoralizing, but if you’re in a playoff spot or not, you’re playing in front of 15,000, 20,000 people and you don’t want to get embarrassed,” Bogosian said. “No matter what, you have to give your best effort. In the games we’ve lost, I don’t think it’s been a lack of effort. It’s the execution and stuff like that.”
In many ways, it makes sense for the Jets to play hard even if the playoffs are unlikely. Really, every team has a different set of circumstances and there’s always been something a little fishy about rolling over for a better prospect in the first place.