Good morning, folks.
I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend.
I indulged myself with carrot cake AND pumpkin pie on Sunday, so thankfully the sun came out on Monday and I could go for an extended bike ride to burn off a few calories. It was a glorious autumn day, and hopefully there will be a few more before you know what arrives.
Last week, our relatively new night sports editor Gilbert Gregory popped by my office to talk about the section: he does that regularly between 4 and 4:30 pm. Yes folks, we try to have a plan.
During our daily chat, Gilbert wanted to point out a paragraph in a story we ran last week by longtime Associated Press hockey writer Larry Lage. In a preview of the NHL's Western Conference, Lage wrote:
"The Colorado Avalanche are actually favored to win the West. Minnesota, Dallas, Edmonton and St. Louis seem set up to earn playoff berths. Teams such as Winnipeg, Chicago and Calgary possibly will play for a spot in the playoffs."
An admitted Jets fan, Gilbert felt the story was 'lazy'; that the author clearly had not taken the time to research the subject matter properly. There was no explanation for his projection that the Jets might play in the playoffs.
I had to agree.
I had assigned the story to a particular page in the paper before reading the yarn — it had not moved on the wire prior to me leaving for the day — and I told Gilbert he was free to spike such a story in the future if he didn't feel it was up to snuff and replace it with something better.
Lage is not alone in his dismissiveness of the Jets: Entering the new season, the team is getting very little respect south of the border. Checking the Vegas odds on Tuesday, the Jets are a +4500 longshot to win the Stanley Cup. What that means is, a $100 wager would earn you $4,500 if Winnipeg was to win the league championship. Nice odds.
And this just in: ex-TSN hockey writer Frank Seravalli is suggesting that would be a good bet.
Seravalli, who left TSN last spring to join an upstart hockey website that specializes in wagering and fantasy play, has made some bold predictions for the 2021-22 NHL season in a story for Daily Faceoff and one of them is:
"The Winnipeg Jets will end Canada’s Stanley Cup drought at 29 years by hoisting the franchise’s first Cup in history. This grizzled Jets core has knocked on the door before, winning three rounds over the last four playoffs. They’re better suited to win now, bolstered by the additions of Nate Schmidt and Brenden Dillon on the backend. They’ve got one of the best top-six forward groups in hockey and a perennial Vezina candidate Connor Hellebuyck in net. Why not them?"
This is not the first time the Jets have been forecasted to win the Cup. You may recall back in March of 2015, The Hockey News splashed the Jets on its cover and predicted Winnipeg would win the cherished chalice in 2019.
In 2018, the Jets looked poised to have that prognostication come true a year early when they stormed to the Western Conference Final, only to be upset by the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Personally, I'm not sure I'd be willing to go out on a limb and say Winnipeg will be the first Canadian team to win the Cup since 1993 — but, I would defintely agree with Seravelli in suggesting they're a better choice than any other team north of the border.
While I kind of get the overlay odds on the Jets — hey, it's a Winnipeg thing — I just don't get the love so-called experts seem to have for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers.
Both teams flopped when the going got tough during last season's playoffs: the Leafs choking and losing to the Habs after taking a 3-1 series lead and the Oilers getting swept by the Jets.
Neither team looks to have improved itself much over the summer and both teams enter the season with the same question marks — goaltending and depth.
Frankly, I'd be more inclined to bet on the Vancouver Canucks — a young and talented team that was effected by COVID more than any other team last season.
Last year, I predicted the Jets would finish second in Canadian division. They battled for top spot for a good portion of the campaign bnefore an odd losing streak at the tail end of the season had them wind up finishing third. I'm claiming my prediction was accurate, however, due to them making the division final.
On paper, Winnipeg is an even better team this season. The addition of Schmidt and Dillon gives the club five legitimate Top 4 defencemen playing behind one of the most talented forward groups and in front of one of the league best goalies.
I predict the Jets will battle Colorado for top spot in the Central all season long and will be a very difficult team to contend with come playoff time. That "grizzled" core will get them to the Conference final once more and from there, your guess is as good as mine.
Which brings me to this: what is your prediction? Where do you think the Jets will finish this season and do you think they have a chance to end Canada's Cup drought?
As always, you can reach me with your comments by replying to this mailing or by sending me an email here.
Have a great week, folks. It's a short one.
• California dreamin': Mike McIntyre is on the west coast for the Winnipeg Jets' season-opening road trip and has a column on how the team needs to make hay early in the campaign with what looks like an easy start to the schedule;
• Clear as mud: Jason Bell took in the team's final practice before departing Winnipeg and has a yarn on what the opening night lineup might look like. One thing we do know, Cole Perfetti will make his NHL debut;
• Better with age: The 8-1 Winnipeg Blue Bombers returned to the practice field on Tuesday and Taylor Allen has a story on runningback Andrew Harris pursuing another rushing title despite missing the first two games of the season and now being 34 years old;
• Take aim: Taylor also has a story on the woes of Bombers' Ali Murtada and what the team's placekicker plans to do to correct his many misses;
• On the subject of hot starts: Mike Sawatzky has a story on how the Winnipeg Ice have started their season 4-0, and with blowout wins and a 30-5 goal differential, there may be big things ahead for the club.
You might also want to know
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Vegas Golden Knights earned a victory in their first game in franchise history four years ago. They denied the Seattle Kraken the same accomplishment Tuesday night. Read More
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tristan Jarry had 26 saves, Danton Heinen and Brian Boyle scored early second-period goals, and the short-handed Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 in the regular-season opener on Tuesday night. Read More
TORONTO - Back home after picking up points via draws in Mexico and Jamaica, unbeaten Canada can move further up the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings when it hosts Panama on Wednesday night at BMO Field. Read More
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Facing a second elimination game in less than a week, the Los Angeles Dodgers kept the same calm and cool approach. Read More
ATLANTA (AP) — Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves will get another chance to finish the job they came agonizingly close to achieving a year ago. Read More
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago White Sox had their sights set on advancing in the playoffs after running away with the AL Central. Read More
MONTREAL - Jake Allen agreed to a two-year extension with the Montreal Canadiens back in 2020 to help alleviate the pressure on star goaltender Carey Price. Read More
All 22 members of Canada's Olympic champion women's soccer team will take part in the "Celebration Tour," with games later this month against New Zealand in Ottawa and Montreal. Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving can keep refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Read More
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Patrick Cantlay had that magic wand of a putter in his hands on the 16th green at Whistling Straits without having to use it. Shane Lowry conceded the match, Cantlay handed the club to his caddie and before long he was celebrating a Ryder Cup victory. Read More
Jon Gruden might still be coaching had he merely been exposed as a remorseful racist. Read More
In case you missed it
His personality has lifted spirits in the locker room Read More
ANAHEIM—Rather fitting, isn’t it, that the Winnipeg Jets will start the new NHL season just a hop, skip and a jump away from Disneyland, otherwise known as the Happiest Place on Earth. Read More
THE University of Manitoba Bisons are preparing to play their first basketball game in 19 months but Keiran Zziwa likely won’t have to shed any rust. Read More