No one gets bullied on the schoolyard anymore — at least not for long, in an era in which every school has zero-tolerance policies for such things.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/6/2016 (2028 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opinion

No one gets bullied on the schoolyard anymore — at least not for long, in an era in which every school has zero-tolerance policies for such things.

So let me explain how it used to work back in the day, when the grownups spent their lunch breaks smoking in the teacher’s room while Charles Darwin ran the playground outside. A bully would pick on you, at which point you had a life-altering decision to make:

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>If the rumours turn out to be true, the Boston Bruins are about to make a play for Jacob Trouba.</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

If the rumours turn out to be true, the Boston Bruins are about to make a play for Jacob Trouba.

You could turtle, in which case the bully would be emboldened and the rest of your school year would become an absolute nightmare of lost lunches and shakedown money.

Or you could muster every ounce of your courage and physical reserve and go postal on that bully. You still might take a beating, of course, but the bruises would fade and the bully would move on to an easier mark.

All of which brings us to today’s thesis: the Winnipeg Jets need to go postal all over the Boston Bruins, immediately and with extreme vengeance.

The Bruins, in case you missed it, are reportedly preparing a wildly inflated offer sheet for defenceman Jacob Trouba, according to multiple media reports in Boston Tuesday night.

The numbers they’re throwing around are absurd — a minimum of $47 million and maybe much more for a term speculated to be seven years. And there’s talk the Bruins might be structuring the Trouba offer so that it will be as poisonous as possible for the Jets to swallow, front-loading the deal so that Trouba would potentially get close to $20 million of that money in just the first two years.

How out of line is that? Well, another top-four defenceman who was a pending restricted free agent this week — the Blue Jackets’ Seth Jones — signed a new deal Wednesday that will pay him $32 million over six seasons.

And then there’s Pittsburgh’s Olli Matta, who was a 2012 first rounder just like Trouba and whose offensive numbers were virtually identical last season — both scored six goals and Trouba's 15 assists were two better than Maatta's 13.

Maatta signed a six-year, $24.5 million deal just a couple months ago and then... oh yeah, got to skate around with the Stanley Cup earlier this month.

The bottom line: the Bruins offer sheet would give Drew Doughty money to a player in Trouba who — at this point in his career and with his offensive numbers in decline in each of the last two season — looks a lot more like Olli Maatta or, at best, Seth Jones, who had three goals and 28 assists last year.

So now what?

Well, let’s assume the media reports in Boston are true. The level of detail in the reports strongly suggests the Bruins are the ones doing the leaking and they’d certainly have ample motive to try and force the Jets’ hand.

Trouba officially becomes a restricted free agent Friday, meaning Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff would either have to match Boston’s offer or accept four first-round draft picks from the Bruins in compensation.

That’s a staggering number of first-rounders and I’d be tempted to take the picks and let the Bruins blow their brains out on Trouba.

But there’s a potential third option here that could be the smartest play of all: package Trouba's rights as part of a larger deal with Florida or Tampa Bay or Detroit or Montreal — pretty much any team in the Atlantic Division where Boston plays — for the top-six forward Trouba would command.

Not only would that solve Winnipeg’s problem of having too many top defencemen to protect heading into next year’s expansion draft, it would also send a message to the rest of the NHL that would be heard loud and clear: these aren’t your father’s Winnipeg Jets and we’re not going to be pushed around anymore.

Late Wednesday, at least one Boston media report suggested Bruins GM Don Sweeney was already having doubts about the wisdom of a Trouba offer sheet and the bad blood it would create around the league.

Jets fans, of course, know all too well what it’s like to see their team bullied by big-money offer sheets. In 1995 — with Jets 1.0 reeling financially and relocation talks at a full boil — the Jets risked losing Keith Tkachuk to what was at the time the richest offer sheet ever tendered — a five-year, $17.2-million offer to Tkachuk from the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Jets matched the Tkachuk offer sheet — just as they did a few seasons earlier when the Calgary Flames tendered an offer sheet for Teemu Selanne. But it proved to be one of the last things Jets 1.0 ever did; the team moved to Phoenix the following spring and it would be 15 years before this city would see NHL hockey again.

Now, Jets 1.0 didn’t move to Phoenix simply because of an offer sheet to Tkachuk any more than this (so far hypothetical) Trouba offer — if matched — would bankrupt Jets 2.0 who, let’s remember, are owned, in part, by the 25th richest man in the world.

David Thomson could rustle up $47 million from under his couch cushions and Cheveldayoff has — to his credit — more than enough salary cap space to make such a deal work for Trouba.

But the problem is such a deal wouldn’t work for the Jets. It is clear — to everyone but the Bruins, it would seem — that Trouba isn’t worth the kind of money Boston is offering. Even leaving aside the decline in his offensive numbers the last two seasons, Trouba is still at the stage of his career where his value is more in his perceived potential than in his past performance.

And a team like the Jets would be foolish to pay $7 million-plus a season for the player Trouba might — I repeat, might — someday become.

And that’s especially true for a Jets team that has another pending restricted free agent this week — Mark Scheifele — who already is that player. Scheifele had more regular-season goals after Feb. 18 than any other player in the NHL and finished the 2015-16 season with a career high 29 goals and 32 assists.

Scheifele is due a massive raise and the Jets are going to give it to him. But it’s going to be on their terms, not Boston’s.

Cheveldayoff has said at least twice this month that he's prepared to match any offer sheet. That was a very dumb thing to say.

If Cheveldayoff’s pronouncement was just meaningless posturing, every NHL front office — including the clowns in Boston — saw right through it.

But if Cheveldayoff was serious? Match any offer sheet? Don’t be daft, man.

The devil is in the details and the details on this pending offer sheet for Trouba are flashing red lights, screaming sirens and smelling like a cow pasture.

Take the picks or, even better, trade Trouba to the Habs, where he can torment the Bruins for years to come.

email: paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter (retired)

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.