Disappointing season nears its end
Jets know off-season changes likely
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/04/2022 (326 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Pierre-Luc Dubois has no plans to put his feet up and ease into the offseason.
The Winnipeg Jets forward has plenty on his plate even as he gets set to play his final NHL game of the year. First up is the expected announcement next week that he will skate for Team Canada at the IIHF World Men’s Hockey Championship next month in Finland.
“The thing I like about it is it gets you ready, gets you playing in those late months of the year and playing more games, kind of like a playoff feel,” Dubois said Friday following morning skate at Canada Life Centre. “I want to get used to that, so when it does happen I can be ready, physically and mentally. So, yeah, it would be a really good experience.”
Then comes some important off-ice business, with the 23-year-old pending restricted free agent is in need of a new contract. He has arbitration rights, and no doubt the Jets will be looking to get his name on a long-term extension.
“I’ve enjoyed my two years here. I like the guys, I like the group, I like the team,” said Dubois, who had scored a career-high 28 goals this year along with 31 assists prior to facing the Calgary Flames Friday night.
“This year, as disappointing as it has been, we have a good team here. It sounds tough, saying that not being in the playoffs, but I know we have a good team in here, we have good players, and I know the coaching staff has done as much as they could this year, they pushed us as hard as they thought we could. It’s a disappointing year, all in all. But I know everybody in there has done as good a job as they could.”
Although talks between his agent and the team haven’t formally started, Dubois expects that to quickly change.
“It’s not just what you want now, it’s what you want six years from now, five years from now, eight years from now. It’s not an easy decision to make,” said Dubois. “I’m somebody that likes to daydream and think of every scenario possible, go into detail on everything. I think I’m somebody that doesn’t leave much to chance. I like, when I make a decision, for it to be well thought. Everything, every little detail about everything. It’s an important decision.”
Josh Morrissey, on the other hand, is looking forward to a break. The team’s top defenceman has told Hockey Canada he’s going to take a pass, owing to the heavy workload he’s logged with Winnipeg along with plans for his upcoming wedding taking precedence.
“I think for me, and for me to be the best player for the Jets next season, I need to rest and get into a good offseason again and start preparing for next year,” said Morrissey, who along with Dubois became the latest in a long list of players to express bitter disappointment at how the 2021-22 regular season played out.
“It’s an underachievement in my view and I think most guys in the room share the same opinion,” added Morrissey. “I’ve listened to a few of the interviews from guys this last week. When you watch, you hear the way guys speak. Everyone cares. Everyone is not happy with where we’re at. I do think our team, the team in that locker room, we have a playoff-calibre team, we have a team that can win.”
But they didn’t — at least not enough — and Morrissey believes that could mean changes between now and training camp next fall.
“As a player, we have to understand that. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Morrissey. “I’m not a GM. But I think if we just say, ‘Ah, it’s a one-off, we’ll come back next year and be the team that we think we should be’, it’s not going to happen.
“So, I think now we’ve talked a lot about it. We’ll have more conversations in the next few days and there’s hopefully guys going into the offseason motivated and ready to work. We’re disappointed. We’re frustrated. We’re mad about the way that it’s gone and the only guys that can right the ship are the players.”
Speaking of the future, Chaz Lucius is looking forward to playing a role in it. The 18th-overall draft pick from last summer signed his entry-level deal with the Jets earlier this week, then met the media via Zoom on Friday to discuss his decision to leave the University of Minnesota after a solid freshman season (9G, 10A in 24GP).
“What made me really make the decision was, from a schedule standpoint, the games that I could get and then obviously, from a development standpoint, getting into the Winnipeg Jets system were the two big main reasons I decided to sign,” said Lucius, a natural centre who spent his brief college career on the right wing.
Starting in the NHL right off the hop would be a long shot, but Lucius could now start his pro career with the Manitoba Moose. He won’t be joining the American Hockey League club for its playoff run this spring, however, as he’s currently recovering from an ankle injury that required surgery,
“I’m hoping to be back on the ice soon,” said Lucius. “The biggest thing for me is getting back from this injury and starting to skate again, work out and do all those things you need to be successful at this level. This summer I’m going to be training with Gary Roberts in Toronto and I think that’s going to be big for my game, to really get strong and mature as a player and a person. But the biggest thing would be strength and just overall speed. I think that aspect of the game is going to be the biggest thing I have to work on.”
Lucius also represented the United States at the world junior championship last December, appearing in one game before COVID-19 shut the event down. It’s now been re-scheduled for August in Alberta.
The Moose have opted to start the playoffs on the road next week, then host the final three games of the best-of-five first-round series against a yet-to-be determined opponent.
Game 3 goes on Wednesday May 11 at Canada Life Centre, while games 4 and 5, if necessary, would take place Friday, May 13 and Sunday, May 15.
Single-game tickets go on sale Monday at MooseHockey.com/TICKETS.
The farm team plays its final game of the regular season Saturday when it hosts the Abbotsford Canucks at 2 p.m.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.