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This article was published 5/11/2016 (286 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
DETROIT -- The Winnipeg Jets and disgruntled defenceman Jacob Trouba were closer here Friday than they have been at any time since Trouba demanded a trade last September.
But when it comes to resolving an increasingly bitter dispute that has deprived the Jets of one of the NHL’s most promising young defenceman, you couldn’t help but get the feeling the two parties have never been further apart.
Trouba loved these annual Jets visits to Joe Louis Arena and the opportunity to play in front of friends and family in the state he grew up in. So if there was ever going to be a break in this seemingly intractable dispute that would get Trouba and the Jets back to the negotiating table, you’d think it would have happened here, especially with Trouba training just up the road in Ann Arbor, Mich., while he continues his holdout.
While Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made this trip with the team, Friday came and went with no word anything has changed: Trouba still wants to be traded, the Jets still want to re-sign him and the clock continues to tick down to a Dec. 1 deadline by which Trouba has to sign somewhere or miss the rest of the 2016-17 season.
And the Jets? Well, they’re putting up points in the standings with the players who want to play for this team — and the ever-fewer number who are actually healthy enough to do so.
A Jets team that has very quickly got the reputation as the comeback kids of the NHL did it once again Friday night, scoring four goals in the third period to turn a 2-1 deficit into an exceptionally hard-fought 5-3 victory over the Red Wings.
The win over Detroit, coupled with a come-from-behind overtime loss in Washington Thursday night, gives the Jets three out of a possible four points the last two nights in two of the toughest buildings in the league.
They’ve done it not only without Trouba, but also without seven injured players — the latest is Joel Armia, who sustained a left-leg injury Thursday night and now sounds like he could be out a long time.
Jets head coach Paul Maurice — who’s not generally prone to hyperbole — was using rarified terms Friday night to describe the win over the Wings.
"That’s as much fun as I’ve had behind the bench in a long time," said Maurice.
"It’s a great win — a great, great win."
It was also a great night for a long list of Jets players. Patrik Laine scored his seventh goal of the season, which ties him for the league lead, Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and three assists and Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists.
On a night any one of those performances would be enough for first-star honours, this night instead belonged to Jets rookie forward Brandon Tanev, who scored his first-ever NHL goal midway through the third period to tie the game 3-3 and then added the game-winner with just over a minute remaining.
"The resilience of this group is incredible," said Tanev. "We don’t stop pushing — that’s the mentality of this group here."
They’ve had no choice. The Jets have trailed heading into the third period in 10 of 12 games this season yet have still mustered a season record of 5-6-1. That says a lot, not all of it good.
Lost amid another night of third-period drama was the performance of another Michigan native who wants to play for the Jets this season: netminder Connor Hellebuyck.
Hellebuyck turned away 24 of 27 Detroit shots, kept his team in the game when the Jets were being shelled 10-2 in shots during the first half of the first period and made some stand-on-your-head-type saves to keep the Jets within striking distance.
A native of the Detroit suburbs, Hellebuyck grew up in Joe Louis Arena and said he had 14 friends and family at Friday night’s game.
"I’m definitely going to cherish this moment," said Hellebuyck.
And Trouba? Well, he continues to watch, wait and lose money with each passing day.
Do the Jets miss him? Of course, now more than ever.
But with a roster duct-taped together, the Jets are also demonstrating what a team can do when everyone buys in.
It’s not pretty. And all these third-period heroics are probably not sustainable unless this team figures out how to stop getting spanked in the second period.
But the Jets also pulled out of town Friday night with a win, while up the road, Trouba just keeps on losing.
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