Risk Factors: Winnipeg Jets edition

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From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you “Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. three reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Winnipeg Jets

1. Sometimes patience is a virtue. But not all the time

Otherwise, there wouldn’t be sayings like, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has shown beyond a doubt that he’s a patient man. He still has faith in Ondrej Pavelec, despite the starting goalie posting below-average numbers in each of the three seasons that the NHL has been back in Winnipeg. He hasn’t traded Evander Kane yet. Though, to be fair, he did apparently explore it.

Oh, and you know what else Cheveldayoff hasn’t done? Attend a Jets playoff game.

Still…patience, everyone.

“Patience in this day and age is lost in a lot of places,” Cheveldayoff once said. “We want right now. But now doesn’t always occur. There’s no magic cure. Hopefully for (fans) they’re rest assured that whenever there’s an opportunity in front of us that we feel can help us, we’re going to do it. But to try and manufacture something, this sport doesn’t work that way.”

And there’s a lot of truth to that. And hey, maybe this is the year it all comes together for the Jets. There’s no shortage of talent on that roster, that’s for sure.

Then again, they were saying that last year, only for…

2. Pavelec

As mentioned, the Jets 2.0 have been in Winnipeg for three years.

Year 1 (2011-12): Pavelec’s save percentage (.906) ranked 35th out of 45 NHL goalies.

Year 2 (2012-13): Pavelec’s save percentage (.905) ranked 34th out of 50 NHL goalies.

Year 3 (2013-14): Pavelec’s save percentage (.901) ranked 46th out of 51 NHL goalies.

Is it any wonder the Vancouver Canucks were worried Winnipeg might roll the dice on Jacob Markstrom when he was available?

The Jets’ backup, by the way, is a 24-year-old by the name of Michael Hutchinson. Career NHL starts? Three.

3. The Kane stuff

He’d like to be traded. That much is clear, given all the chances he’s had to just spit it out and say he’s happy in Winnipeg, only to say things like

“Well, I think I’m a Winnipeg Jet right now and there’s been speculation and rumors for the three years since I got there. So we’ll see what happens and we’ll carry on as I’m a Winnipeg Jet.”

Or

“I love playing in front of the fans. There’s no better feeling than when they’re cheering for you after a goal, and when they’re cheering for you after a win.”

Bold statement there. He likes to hear the fans cheer when he scores a goal.

Even in stories with headlines that read “Evander Kane happy to be with Jets,” you’ll note he never actually says those words.

Granted, there’s no rule that says a player has to be happy to be productive on the ice. But generally teams like it when their star players are excited — not just willing — to be there. It’s better for morale that way. It’s not the topic du jour every darn jour. A simple remark from a teammate like, “He needs to step up,” doesn’t turn into a whole thing.

It’s a tough situation for Cheveldayoff, and one with no easy solution. Even if the Jets wanted to move Kane, they’d have to find a trading partner that made it worth their while. And given the baggage Kane’s collected during his time in the prairie city, potential trading partners may be hesitant to offer full value.

Add it all up — and throw in the fact the Jets are stuck in arguably the toughest division in the league — and it seems like hockey fans in Winnipeg will have to take solace in the following remark from Cheveldayoff:

“Give us a few years and I like our chances.”