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This article was published 11/2/2016 (1641 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With three rookies in the lineup and the organization pointing to the playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets began the 2015-16 NHL season with excitement in the air.
Personally, I was skeptical Nic Petan, Nikolaj Ehlers and Andrew Copp would be able to carry that load. That’s a lot of faith in untried labour.
The Jets had also lost notable veterans Michael Frolik, Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty as unrestricted free agents in the summer, while only Alexander Burmistrov was added. That meant there was no room for the inevitable injuries, so I’m not surprised by their current record (24-26-3 prior to Thursday's game against the Boston Bruins).
The Jets are exactly where they should be — and if you read through the Jets characters in the following movies, you’ll see why:
Nikolaj Ehlers: The beauty in hockey is seen when a lightning-quick skill set is combined with excellent on-ice vision and the confidence to make the unthinkable great play. Ehlers brings fans out of their seats as Jets 1.0 stars Teemu Selanne and Dale Hawerchuk once did. And maybe he’s half beast with his recent fight.
Dustin Byfuglien: This one-of-a-kind animal can eloquently dance around the ice with a puck as easily as he steamrolls an opposing player crazy enough to get in his path. It’s nice to see No. 33 will around for five more years.
Blake Wheeler: In the past, he faced criticism for slow starts to seasons and taking the odd shift off. That was then. Now his extreme power and speed, combined with a hunger to drive the play, have put him among the top forwards in the National Hockey League.
Bryan Little: Always making the right play in all three zones, he doesn’t get the national coverage he deserves, but opposing coaches sure know who he is. He’s a terrific mentor for Mark Scheifele on how to play the game right.
Mathieu Perreault: He should be known as Mad Dog Perreault for the way he chases down bones (pucks). He does it with wonderful skills and is a constant threat on the ice.
Tobias Enstrom: Under relentless attack from part of the Jets fan base, he’s the only good left-shot defenceman Winnipeg has. He allows his partners to roam the ice with confidence.
Mark Scheifele: He improves every year and is a good second-line centre with a future that grows brighter every day. Where he ends up as a player will have a huge effect on what the Jets become as a team.
Jacob Trouba: His terrific skill set had me whispering "possible future Norris Trophy winner" (best defenceman in the NHL). He has to improve, but it could be perilous to their health should the Jets give up on the youngster.
Connor Hellebuyck: He could easily become the consistent No. 1 goalie fans have been craving for. He’s had to play too much for a rookie, but he holds the keys to the Jets goal crease.
Tyler Myers: He’s one of the NHL’s best defencemen when it comes to skating with the puck. He’s not so good at dishing off that puck. While he has some awkward moments defensively, he’s a top-four defenceman in Winnipeg and, with some improvement, he could move up.
Drew Stafford: The sniper has had a good year. He’s easily met expectations while being shuffled around the lineup.
Joel Armia: He’s shown flashes of his talent, but the jury is still out as to whether he can produce on a nightly basis at the big-league level.
Andrew Ladd: Once revered by Jets fans, the captain has picked up some detractors this year while recovering from surgery. He had a slow start, but recent play suggests he’s back.
Ben Chiarot: He dropped into a surprisingly successful role last year, but he’s struggled this season and now hangs on to a third-pairing job.
Alexander Burmistrov: A multitalented forward who looked like he was going to become a very good NHL player. The skill set is there; we’re still looking for him to put it all together.
Adam Lowry: He burst onto the scene last year and had an excellent rookie campaign, but has struggled in the new Jets system.
Chris Thorburn: He’d climb a tree to fight an ape if he thought it was going to harm a teammate. He's built a long career on heart, but when he’s playing on one of the Jets' top three lines, they’re in trouble.
Mark Stuart: He’s fashioned a respected career built on his big heart. His skill set has him fighting to keep his spot in the regular lineup.
Anthony Peluso: One of the league’s best fighters. There aren’t many one-dimensional enforcers left in the NHL.
Michael Hutchinson: He’s had a disappointing season, following last year’s promising one.
Andrew Copp: The rookie forward has struggled, and he’s not been helped by the variety of nondescript players he’s had to play with.
Ondrej Pavelec: Injured.
Adam Pardy and Paul Postma: It seems they’re not getting a call from head coach Paul Maurice to get back in the lineup.
Take a look at The Way We Were, The Warriors, I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Untouchables.
There are too many players in those lists to suggest the Jets should be a better team than their record. They are what their record says they are unless they get an upward push from at least one or two of the characters.
Chosen ninth overall by the NHL’s St. Louis Blues and first overall by the WHA’s Houston Aeros in 1977, Scott Campbell has now been drafted by the Winnipeg Free Press to play a new style of game.
Scott was a member of Winnipeg Jets 1.0 for a couple of seasons and also played for the WHA Jets team that won the last Avco Cup in 1978-79.
The Winnipeg Free Press invites you to share your opinion on this story in a letter to the editor. A selection of letters to the editor are published daily.
Letters must include the writer’s full name, address, and a daytime phone number. Letters are edited for length and clarity.