The 2020-21 season, the infamous season of COVID, and the uncertainty it brought both on the ice and off will be remembered as a time of anxiety and a winter of discontent throughout the NHL. The season created strain and stress for two Winnipeg Jets that adversely and understandably affected their on-ice performance. Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Morrissey have seriously turned things around this season and are at the forefront of the Jets’ engine that drives the team.
For very different reasons, the two produced less than had become expected of them. Morrissey’s father was battling and sadly succumbed to cancer this past fall, and with COVID’s health protocols, he could not be there for his father the way he had wanted. Unable to fully attend to his dad only amplified an already stressful situation, and if you’ve gone through watching a loved one slowly pass, you know it is not an easy process. Add the extra stress that COVID has put on all our lives, and it is no wonder Morrissey’s game suffered? Not in my books.
Dubois started the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets was having issues with the Ohio club, of which he has never publicly stated specifically what those issues were. He was traded in January to the Jets, and in having to cross the Canada-US border to get to Winnipeg, he had to spend his first 14 days in the Manitoba capital in isolation. After the two-week quarantine, he was thrust into the lineup without much experimentation as to where he properly fit.
To simplify this article, let’s just say he and then head coach Paul Maurice never really found a place of real chemistry for him with linemates. He was bounced around the forward lines and never landed in one spot. This, combined with being in a new place, playing with new teammates, and being only 22 years of age, made for a season that was self-admittedly disappointing.
Dubois Back on Track after Trade
This season has been a different story for Dubois. Last season he scored eight goals in 41 games, this season, he has doubled that total and potted 16 in 35 games. He is currently on pace to amass 66 points which would be a career-high for an 82 game season, and along with Kyle Connor, he has been the Jets’ best and most reliable forward. Coming off an impressive start to the season, Dubois’ production has slipped as of late until a two-point night in Washington, as a COVID-induced postponement filled December and January has affected routine and ultimately his offensive contributions.
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Because of his consistent two-way play and constant threat to his opponent, Dubois has created two issues. One, he has to be at the top of the opposition’s radar and pre-game preparations, and secondly, the Jets will have to pay him a significant increase before the next season. He has played himself into a raise in salary and could be the richest contract the Jets and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff have agreed to with a player. The 23-year-old could be a mainstay for the Jets for many years to come, and with their current window of opportunity to win the Stanley Cup only two or three years, he will be an important signing for the Jets in the offseason.
Dubois has been a rock on the front lines for the Jets, and he has proven to be a good move for the Jets acquiring him and is one of the main reasons the Jets are in the midst of a hunt for a playoff spot with half the season remaining. The other bright spot for the Jets has been the upsurge in the play of Morrissey, who, like Dubois, has regained the spark in his game after a less than “Morrisey-like” season that Jets fans have become accustomed to over the past few seasons.
Morrissey Back on Track and Leading the Defense
Morrissey fought a different set of circumstances that affected his play last year as his father battled cancer. That compounded with the stresses that COVID and its protocols bring to the health system weighed heavily on the undeniable leader of the Jets’ defensive unit. However, this season he has found himself back in that role of being the go-to guy for the Jets and the reliable back liner that has led all defensemen in scoring this season. The Jets defense has scored 10 goals all season, and he has netted five of them.
He has already scored one more goal than he tallied all of last year, and with 14 points to date, he is only seven points off his offensive output from a season ago. He is on pace to score 32 points which would be a career high for the Calgary native.
Coming to camp with his family situation sadly behind him as his father passed away on Aug. 8 after his year-long battle, Morrissey has been the Jets’ blue line pillar, which has improved defensively. His leadership has been unquestionable, and he has once again proven he is an integral part of the Jets’ success moving forward.
Both Morrissey and Dubois have bounced back nicely from 2020-21. Along with their consistent play and leadership, they have been a major player in the Jets, staying in the hunt for a playoff spot. When the team gets through their COVID issues and hits the stretch where they’re replaying their nine postponed games, both these players are going to be counted on and step up as they have done since the opening of training camp.