Dear Hockey Gods: what have the Winnipeg Jets done to offend you so?
I understand some of the things that have effectively sunk the Jets’ 2015-16 season after such a promising 2014-15 year have been their own fault. Poor decisions on the penalty kill and an excessive number of penalty kills to begin with come to mind. As does a power play that looks as confused as Timbits hockey at times, and frequently less effective than five-on-five play. Marry that to poor goaltending, and you have a recipe for the Jets losing a season to mediocrity. Much of the problems the Jets have suffered through can, in one form or another, be laid at their own feet.
There are, however, a few problems that aren’t so easily explained. Injuries are the big one, and they’re a big reason why folks in Winnipeg are starting to wonder if you hate their beloved team. One of the few bright sides of the latter half of this season (I happen to be an expert on those as you may know) was the growth of the team’s young guns, namely Joel Armia and Nikolaj Ehlers. As much fun as we were all having watching them develop, you clearly decided they needed to pay for the Jets’ transgressions (whatever those may be), as they were both injured within days of each other.
Oh, and in one of the worst instances of puck luck imaginable, the puck that injured Ehlers dropped right to the feet of Kyle Okposo, who promptly deposited it in the net for an OT winner.
See, it’s things like this that make me start to wonder if you dislike the Jets on some personal level. And I ask myself, what could they have done to warrant this wrath?
Was it the Fans’ Fault?
Okay, I’ll grant you, Jets fans have, on occasion, been somewhat less than classy. They’ve been known to shout some interesting things en masse at opposing players, from the well-known “Crosby’s Better” at Alexander Ovechkin, to the slightly crueller “Silver Medal” at Ryan Miller to “Katy Perry” at Ryan Getzlaf. No wait, that doesn’t work, it was at Corey Perry! While some people thought that last one was bordering on sexist, for the most part the fans and the national media find the chants endearing, and kind of funny. So I doubt if it’s that.
True, the MTS Centre crowd and Jets fans abroad have been notoriously unkind to referees but hey, the fans know their stuff. They know when the ref has goofed up, and they’re going to let him know too.
There was that time fans at the MTS Centre took things way too far shouting at an 11 year old in an Islander jersey but even other Jets fans were appalled by that one, and I’d like to think those that shouted represent a small, drunken minority. Even if they don’t, why would you take that out on Tyler Myers of all people? He’s a nice guy! Perhaps too much so for being 6’8, but that’s a debate for another day.
— SportsCentre (@SportsCentre) March 24, 2016
Myers’ injury, which will put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season, is the latest casualty in a run of spectacular bad luck for the Jets. The run has already claimed Bryan Little, Anthony Peluso, Ehlers and Armia (who, thankfully, returned to the lineup this week) JC Lipon, and Mark Stuart. Earlier in the year it victimized Mark Scheifele, the team’s leading goal scorer and arguably its best player right now. It very narrowly missed Jacob Trouba as well, as he was almost put on the shelf after blocking a shot on Thursday, March 24 against the Kings.
How many injuries before the Jets just start wearing Moose jerseys?
— Kyle Collins (@KyleCollins93) March 22, 2016
Indeed, as Mr. Collins points out, anyone wanting to see the Manitoba Moose play right now is better off buying Jets tickets. In fact, counting Marko Dano, Winnipeg has now dressed 12 players that have spent time in the AHL this season. One begins to wonder if conditioning is an issue, but if it isn’t, I’m going with the tried-and-true “cursed by the Hockey Gods” explanation. And lest you think the Moose are immune from this run of bad luck that normally only comes from using a black cat to break a mirror (while under a ladder), Josh Morrissey is out with an injury too.
Doesn't look like #MBMoose D Josh Morrissey can play this weekend so along with Sean Escobedo, MB. Signs D Brandon Denham
— Jim Toth (@JimTothSports) March 25, 2016
Now every team deals with injuries, but with the laundry list of players in sick bay right now, you’d have to forgive Jets fans for feeling a little dumped on. This season has been hard enough for them to endure without taking so many of their favourite players (many of them in the midst of promising NHL beginnings) out of the lineup.
Listen Hockey Gods, I know you’re a vengeful bunch. I know you’ve got a bit of a cruel sense of humour, and you’re not afraid to make people eat their words in the worst possible way when they get too cocky. Remember that fan who made fun of Steve Sullivan? How could anyone forget?
But here’s the thing: for the life of me I can’t figure out what the Winnipeg Jets have done to earn your wrath, nor can I figure out what they have to do to end it (human sacrifice is frowned upon in this day and age) and I have to say it’s getting harder to cover a team so hobbled by injuries. Even I can only look on the bright side for so long.
So, to the Hockey Gods, on behalf of the Winnipeg Jets and their fans, I say this: whatever it is, we’re sorry already.
Now, please stop trying to murder our players.