Ask a Winnipeg Jets fan what the problems leading to the team’ mediocre start have been and you likely won’t hear the name Adam Lowry in reply.
Nevertheless, on Wednesday it was Adam Lowry who bore the brunt of the punishment for the Jets’ recent failures as he was demoted to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. A number of factors go into this decision, not least of which is his ability to be sent down without passing through waivers. Still, after his impressive rookie season, it’s hard to regard the trip to the AHL as anything less than a step back.
Lowry, to his credit, is taking this in stride as much as possible, saying all the right things and not letting his trip to the minors get him down. In fact by all accounts his first game with the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday December 16, just hours after learning of his demotion, was full of promising signs. He had an assist and generally made his presence felt in a way Jets fans came to expect of the big young power forward in making.
Covering the Moose-Rampage game for @metrowinnipeg tonight. I'll just say this — Adam Lowry is playing with a chip on his shoulder.
— 𝗗𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗻 𝗕𝗮𝘂𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 (@DarrinBauming) December 17, 2015
None of this changes the fact, however, that Paul Maurice and company are fixing the wrong problem here. Yes, Lowry took a strange penalty (that many observers felt wasn’t really a penalty at all) that led to a St. Louis power play goal to get them back into the game. Other than that one game, however, the fourth line of Adam Lowry, Anthony Peluso and Andrew Copp, had been playing their grinding game and playing it well. It’s more than can be said for the hastily cobbled together third line featuring Alexander Burmistrov and Nikolaj Ehlers.
Fixing the Wrong Problem
When the Jets drafted Adam Lowry back in 2011, they knew what they were getting, and it wasn’t an offensive dynamo. Yes, he was going through a sophomore slump, but Lowry is not there just to score goals. Lowry is there to play the physical game and make opponents look over their shoulders when he’s on the ice. To be fair, he hasn’t been doing that as well this season either.
In the end, my problem with this demotion is not so much with the act itself as the fact that it’s not enough. The Jets have so many problems that demoting Lowry won’t solve. Alexander Burmistrov, for example, plainly has no chemistry with his linemates, and while great offensive things were not expected of him, Jets fans certainly expected more than two goals.
His line-mate Nikolaj Ehlers, meanwhile, has hit the rookie wall, and hit it hard. Who would’ve thought the most offensively productive forward on that line would be Chris Thorburn?
The Jets can’t fool themselves into thinking this is enough. It may be for Lowry’s own good, and it’s certainly not a sign the Jets are giving up on him, but they do need to improve elsewhere. If they’re lucky, this surprising demotion will make the rest of the team give their heads a shake.
This is not an indication the #NHLJets are giving up on Adam Lowry, not even maybe. This is likely a temporary demotion for a young player
— Ken Wiebe (@WiebesWorld) December 16, 2015
If nothing else, this gives the Jets a chance to give Joel Armia a look, who, along with Matt Halischuk, was recalled today. The Jets already botched Armia’s last recall so here’s hoping he actually gets a look at the ice this time.
#NHLJets recall Joel Armia and Matt Halischuk from @ManitobaMoose >> https://t.co/pID0zq9NKx pic.twitter.com/P7OZCmBXRP
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) December 17, 2015
Another Success Story?
The NHL is rife with stories of young players who were sent down to the minors and came back stronger for it. Perhaps Adam Lowry will be another. As mentioned, he’s saying all the right things and working hard, and every indication given says the Moose shouldn’t get used to having him around. He’ll be back with the Jets possibly before the Christmas roster freeze. The beauty of sharing a rink with the farm team is that for the Jets a call-up is just a trip down the hallway away.
In the long term, in all likelihood, Lowry will be better for this temporary setback, and it’s a chance for the cellar-dwelling Jets to shake things up a bit. That said, the shaking needs to continue and maybe, just maybe, a few heads need to roll.