© Geoff Brookes
I don’t think I’m panicking, as a Jets fan. I do think that I’ve come back down to earth.
The Western conference is good, and Calgary looks like a better team than I had thought.
But the Jets just aren’t a good hockey **TEAM** in the year 2014-15.
Yes, there are encouraging flashes. And some players are playing like it matters. Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and I think Brian Little, to name a few.
And I’ll leave it at that. A few.
How else do you explain the team getting shutout in a lacklustre way in their home opener, against a non-playoff team (last year)?
The fans were ready. True North had a great visual effect, with the blue-lit wands that fans received when they walked in. The fans were roaring. They sustained many Go Jets Go chants, and many cheers. There were roars when the Jets made solid body checks, and near-miss goals.
The Jets played well for 10 minutes. Then they wilted. The lost to Nashville 2-0, in a disheartening kind of way.
But, the resilient Jet fans were not overcome with remorse. They did not put their flags away! If anything, Around the city, I saw more Jets TShirts, hats, flags, and other swag after the Nashville game than before the big goose egg.
Jets fans waited with anticipation for the beginning of the second home game in this 5 game home stand, versus Calgary.
Again, it looked good early. This time the Jets got the first goal, on a nice three way passing play, with Scheifele scoring. But the Jets lost their way in the last 2 minutes of the first period, allowing Calgary to hem them in the Jets’ end. (I will have nightmares seeing the digits 22 in my worst dreams).
The Jets never regained the momentum in the game. Calgary scored four unanswered goals, walking away with the win, 4-1.
I watched the Calgary game on TV. But fans at the game tweeted that there was an exodus of fans with about five minutes to go. That’s right – not sticking around even to boo. Just leaving.
This Jets team doesn’t seem to have the determination that they did a year ago, when they managed a late game comeback against Calgary. There is something deeply wrong with this team, and I don’t think it has anything to do with Evander Kane (who often attracts blame from fans for his off-ice antics).
In my opinion, the untouchables are Scheifele, Trouba, Wheeler, Little and Kane. I’d like to say Bogosian, and I wouldn’t give up on him quickly, but he hasn’t shown it consistently yet.
I had hoped that this team could build a winner this year. I predicted it.
I was wrong.
It’s time to identify the true core of this team, and build around that true core. Not for this year, or next year, but for four years from now. That’s right – four years from now. It will take that long to build a contender from this mess. Just ask Wade Miller how long it takes.
Yeah, Wheeler will be older by that time, but – dammit – he’s a true leader. Someone who’ll fight for his team, and who plays with speed and determination. Someone who so obviously plays with fire in his eyes.
I want Wheeler on the team. I see the same determination (whatever the score) in Mark Scheifele. Ditto Brian Little. Lowry is a kid who has moxy. I’m not ready to give up on Kane.
But when True North is thinking about whether to draft a player, or sign, or trade for a player, they should look at video of Blake Wheeler, and ask themselves if the new player fits that mould. If he does, he’s got a spot on the team.
We just don’t have enough of them to be a good team right now.