For the second time in 2013, the Tampa Bay lightning square off against division rival Winnipeg. The Jets, who have lost their past two games with a combined score of 7-1 against them. This came on the heels of an impressive run that had them winning four out of five. We catch up with Arctic Ice Hockey with three questions regarding Jets 2.0, Evander Kane and the defensive corps.
h1. I don't think there's any club comparable to the Winnipeg Jets at the moment. Such a strange set of circumstances with the sudden relocation, the geography of playing in the SE Division, the adjustments of players, fans, management and press as they get to know each other and define what the Jets2.0 is about. There's a tremendous amount of passion with not a lot of proven excellence in the organization (on or off the ice). What's been the most surprising aspect of these last two years of NHL hockey's abrupt return to Manitoba?
When the Jets "came back" to Winnipeg, it kicked off a very emotional period, with few expectations and a lot of forgiveness for shortcomings. Fans were just so happy to have NHL hockey again. The passion and support has not been a surprise to those of us in the city. When Bettman said that Winnipeggers would have to sell 13,000 season tickets to impress the Board of Governors to ensure the relocation took place, I was not at all surprised that it took mere minutes to accomplish, as the buzz around town was that almost everyone you talked to was looking to get in on the season ticket action.
So while lots of the success of the franchise thus far was not a shock, I never really expected the honeymoon with the franchise, both on and off the ice, to last as long as it has, despite less than stellar play. Despite a lockout, fans still salute the owners of the team with a boisterous "TRUE NORTH" during the Canadian national anthem, as we are thankful for True North Sports and Entertainment returning the NHL to Winnipeg. I figured this would fade as it became apparent that no matter how loud we cheer the team on the ice is not that far removed from being the Atlanta Thrashers, but it really hasn't faded yet.
2. Do you have any predictions on the future of Evander Kane with this franchise? We see occasional flaps in the Winnipeg press about his personal off-ice choices. But his size, elite skillset and age make him a seemingly great acquisition for a lot of other teams. Any chance he's traded before the deadline or do you think Jets management sees him as a cornerstone of the future (who maybe just needs to grow up)?
Despite what some local mainstream media types have said, there does not seem to ever be a reputable source that suggests that the relationship between Evander Kane and the Jets is anywhere near bad. Kane is viewed as one of the corner stones of a young team that will be around for a long time. His on ice success, coupled with the recent 5 year deal he signed, suggest that both he and the club want him in a Jets jersey for years to come.
When healthy, Tobias Enstrom is among the leagues elite power play QBs, and is as under appreciated as an elite defenseman can be. His value is almost immeasurable, as his defensive prowess makes up for many Dustin Byfgulien blunders, while he quietly puts up very good offensive numbers as well. So he goes in as most reliable.
I have to go off the grid a bit with the leadership question, as none of the 3 names you mentioned are vocal leaders, so I'll submit the name of Mark Stuart. He isn't the most talented player on the team by any stretch, but he is definitely a team player and a good voice in the locker room. He wears the 'A' for a reason on this team, as his devotion is unquestionable, sacrificing his body night in and night out with shot blocks and physical play, and getting little media attention for his efforts.