Promising night ruined by Jets

Last-place team's horrible display puts damper on show of patriotism


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The scene was set for an evening to remember, but in the end it was just another losing night for Winnipeg’s pro hockey outfit.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/10/2014 (3027 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The scene was set for an evening to remember, but in the end it was just another losing night for Winnipeg’s pro hockey outfit.

Stacey Nattress sang seven words before turning it over to the 15,000 or so at the Jets-Bolts game Friday night.

“O Canada, our home and native land,” was all Nattress needed before resting her microphone at her side and letting the Canadians in the MTS Centre stands sing their anthem.

Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler (26) sits on the ice next to Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop (30) during second period of Friday's game at the MTS Centre.

While it was scripted, it didn’t feel contrived or cloying. Canada has had a hard week and this was a good moment. The emotional current didn’t help the Jets, however, and they were horrible, falling 4-2 to the Steven Stamkos show known as the Tampa Bay Lighting.

“It was amazing. There was such energy and I was able to share in the moment and stand there and feel those voices filling the building. It was so powerful,” said Nattress.

Lots of fans wore red and many broke out their Team Canada jerseys for the occasion. The Jets held a moment of silence prior to the game for slain soldiers Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo, both killed in terrorist attacks earlier this week.

“I’m proud to be a Canadian and to show support to the fallen soldiers. I go to all the games. But this is important. It’s different,” said Bob Spiers, wearing a Canada jersey and an Armed Forces cap. “I’m an emotional guy. Things like this hit home big-time. It’s a proud day and a proud moment. I wouldn’t want to live in any other place. Canada is it.”

Lisa Meyer and her husband Bryan come to lots of Jets games and usually wear the local team’s jersey, but Friday was a time for red.

“To honour our fallen soldiers. The national anthem always means a lot every night but on this night it means more. We’re so lucky to live in Canada. To be proud and strong and free. To be True North,” said Lisa Meyer.

Some came for the opportunity to gather with other Canadians and the game took a back seat.

“I’m honouring our troops. I’m a very proud Canadian. The sacrifice these men made this week, that our soldiers make all the time to protect us, it needs to be honoured,” said Tracy Webber. “I wasn’t going to come to the Jets game because, to be honest, right now I’m not much of a fan of them. But I came to hear O Canada and be with other Canadians. So my son is at home.”

This was just Game 7 of an 82-game schedule.

Irrelevant in so many ways and meant to be forgotten.

Except it was different. It mattered and it will be remembered.

The Jets were a different story and will want to forget this game as soon as possible.

They lacked focus and finish. None of their players had good nights. Winnipeg gave too many open looks to Tampa’s big guns and the visitors didn’t miss when given the chance.

Jets coach Paul Maurice is quickly finding out he’s got even more of a challenge on his hands than he might have expected.

His group is mentally soft and doesn’t have a compass.

Inconsistency has been the hallmark of this club since it moved to Winnipeg and Maurice is the man now tasked with determining how to stamp out that insidious trait.

The Jets are drifting towards dangerous territory in a hurry and now own a 2-5 record for a share of last place in the Western Conference. They’ll face their cellar mates Sunday when the Colorado Avalanche come to town. Thumb wrestling for the most honest golfer award.

Yes, it’s still early in the schedule, but in the near future the NHL standings will begin to take shape and making a big move up the charts will become increasingly difficult.

The Jets will need to get a major change in their results or we’ll be able to label them for what we’re seeing right now, and that’s a bottom feeder.

They won’t have emotional pre-game ceremonies to mask reality every night. In fact, the Jets’ play saw to it the warm and fuzzy feelings rubbed off somewhere in the middle of the second period.

The anthem singer and the folks in the stands were strong this night.

The Jets didn’t live up to the moment. That’s becoming their identity.

Twitter @garylawless


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