Welcome to part two of our “what happened to him” series where we look back at the last Thrashers squad and the very first Jets 2.0 team to figure out what happened to each player. This was inspired by having Blake Wheeler as the only active player who played in Atlanta and is still with the team.
In part one, we took a look at how the Atlanta Thrashers transformed into the Winnipeg Jets. In this post, we will examine the roster from the first season and give everyone a little refresher of what the first season looked like for the Jets. Going forward, we will begin to look at individual players to see how they left the team and what happened to them after they left.
The 2011-2012 Winnipeg Jets weren’t very good. They were still a part of the Southeast division left over from the Atlanta days which meant plenty of travel to Florida, Washington, Tampa Bay, and Carolina. They finished the season with a 37-35-10 record which gave them 84 points. They missed the playoffs by 8 points and were 11th in the Eastern Conference and 22nd in the league.
This team was led by captain Andrew Ladd and head coach Claude Noel who had been promoted from the Manitoba Moose. Noel had very little NHL experience with only 24 games as a head coach in Columbus. However, he did spend three seasons as an assistant coach with the Blue Jackets from 2007-2010.
Evander Kane led the team in scoring with 30 goals at only 20 years old. Blake Wheeler led the team in both assists and points with 47 and 64 respectively. Just like the prior year, Pavelec and Mason backstopped the team all year long.
When looking at some of the common line combinations, some familiar trios begin to emerge. Although Ladd, Little, Wheeler spent lots of time together, there were a number of other prominent trios from that first season.
The second most frequent line was the fan-favourite, GST line with Tanner Glass, Jim Slater, and Chris Thorburn.
According to the data I could find, here is a sample lineup from the year.
(data from frozenpool.dobbersports.com)
That sure brings back some memories, eh?
After the team transitioned from Atlanta, we determined in our previous post that 14 players were new when the Jets moved to Winnipeg. This included the likes of Miettinen, Wellwood, Glass, Maclean, Fehr, Gagnon, McArdle, Scheifele, Jaffray, Clitsome, Flood, Jones, Festerling, Meech.
With that many new faces, where did they all come from?
Well, there are a number of ways to acquire players in the NHL, and the Jets used seemingly every way possible when finding these players during the year.
The most common way to get these players was by signing them as free agents. Miettinen, Wellwood, Glass, Gagnon, Jaffrey, Jones, and Meech all joined the team in free agency. Flood was a slightly different story. He was previously signed by the Moose and was eventually called up to make his appearance.
The Jets lacked depth so they also made a few waivers claims. This is how they acquired both Maclean and Clitsome. Funnily enough, this is also how they lost Maclean a little while later.
Festerling was a player who was transferred from Atlanta, although he never actually played for the Thrashers which is why he wasn’t included in the prior post’s details.
Winnipeg also made a few deals to bring in both Fehr and McArdle via trade.
Lastly, the Jets had one player make their debut from the draft as Mark Scheifele played seven games with the Jets and recorded one goal before being sent back down to the OHL for the season.
It’s actually impressive to see the different ways that Winnipeg added players. They did it virtually every way possible and used every tool possible to try and make their team better. Even with all of these new players, the team struggled overall, something that Winnipeg fans would get used to seeing over the next several years.
So, we have established the transition between Atlanta and Winnipeg and now we have refreshed our memory of that first season back in Winnipeg. We looked at some common lines and how Winnipeg was able to get so many new faces in their lineup.
Now the real fun begins as we can start to take a look at individual players’ careers after this first season in Winnipeg.