RALEIGH, N.C. — Winnipeg Jets forward Tanner Glass called out his team the other day, demanding they play with passion and effort the rest of the way.
On Friday night he embodied that spirit to the fullest.
The third-line winger broke his foot blocking a shot in the second period of his team’s 4-3 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes but only missed a few shifts before coming back to help his team grind out a victory.
The Jets are all but done in the playoff picture, but Glass and a number of veterans were miffed after a poor team effort in Wednesday’s loss to the New York Rangers. Glass insisted these final games mattered for a number of reasons, including the continued remake of this franchise that became known as perennial losers under the banner of the Atlanta Thrashers.
"We’re trying to change the culture and, excuse my French, make this a place where you come to work and bust your ass every day no matter the situation. It has to be a thing that everybody does every day and if you don’t you don’t play," said captain Andrew Ladd, who potted the winner just 16 seconds into overtime. "We talked about showing the character we have in this room and that we owed it to our fans to finish the season on a good note. The first period was pretty disappointing and we came into the room after and talked about it. We needed to get it going and we did."
Developing a winning mentality requires character players and Glass has proven to be just that this season. He’s an unrestricted free agent as of July 1 but GM Kevin Cheveldayoff must have plans to re-sign Glass as he had offers for him prior to the trade deadline. Cheveldayoff elected to keep Glass rather than collect picks because of his importance in the dressing room and on the ice. He’s a core leader that shows the way by example and will be worth the money spent to keep him.
The win gives the Jets a 36-34-8 record for 80 points, six back of Buffalo and Washington for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
All teams have four games remaining on the schedule.
The Jets had lost three straight and have now won just four of their last 11. Friday’s win, however, was a positive in many senses, including the fact it came on the road and was of the comeback variety.
Winnipeg trailed 3-2 heading into the third before Kyle Wellwood tied it to force overtime. Ladd said the players had a heated discussion after the first period and were joined by coach Claude Noel.
"I got involved. The players started it on their own but I had some things I needed to clear up from a coaching standpoint. You have to trust that your room is strong enough to handle those things," said Noel. "Our guys battled back. We needed to play better. I didn’t like the first, but we played better as the game wore on. The perseverance and toughness we played with was really good. Tanner Glass takes a shot and breaks his foot and plays on for a period-and-a-half to finish the game. He’ll be done for the year but that kind of desire and effort is what we’re looking for."
It’s exactly what they should be looking for. Letting Glass slip away this summer would be a step back while retaining him should be viewed as a nice step forward.