Who doesn’t love a good sports documentary? Currently ESPN’s “The Last Dance” about the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls has captured everyone’s attention, and on the heels of that, ESPN has a documentary about the 1998 MLB season and the home run exploits of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa coming up that should be just as good.
There isn’t going to be an outcry for any hockey documentaries that involve the Winnipeg Jets any time soon, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t interesting fodder out there that would make for a good hour long program. Given the overly secret nature in how TNSE and the Jets conduct business, I’d be willing to bet there would be a lot of fans who would find a behind-the-scenes re-telling of the following four stories fascinating…
“10 Minutes Away: How A Coyote Return Ended Up A Thrasher Relocation”
True North Sports and Entertainment had spent years building a foundation for the NHL’s eventual return to Winnipeg and as the first decade of the new millennium passed, momentum and fate seemed to be coming together at the right time as the organization had quietly proved their worth to commissioner Gary Bettman, while at the same time, the old Winnipeg Jets who had moved to Arizona and become the Coyotes were mired in years of ownership limbo. With the league directly controlling the fate of the former Jets, it started to feel more and more inevitable that a reunion between team and city was about to happen.
And then with about 10 minutes to spare before a league imposed deadline in 2010, the City of Glendale, Arizona committed to covering team debts and keeping the Coyotes in Arizona. The disappointment for Mark Chipman and his group was short-lived though as attention was turned to Atlanta and a another struggling franchise that had it’s own ownership abandonment issues and a league seemingly less than interested in fighting for the hockey market in Georgia than they were for the one in Arizona.
“Raising Kane: The Rise And Fall Of Evander”
When the Atlanta Thrashers moved north to Winnipeg, Evander Kane – who was going into his third year in the NHL – was poised for a breakout season and had the potential to be the first superstar of the Jets 2.0 era. It started off well enough in the 2011-12 season, with a 30 goal campaign, and a six year, $31.5-million contract signed the following summer that should have cemented his place in the hearts of Winnipeg hockey fans.
But his antics off the ice, from harmless Instagram photos to more severe accusations of misconduct in public including assault, slumps in play on the ice, along with a never ending question if he even wanted to be in Winnipeg even after signing his six year deal, quickly soured the relationship with not just the fans, but with his own teammates. Ultimately the fabled “tracksuit incident” was the final straw which forced a trade to Buffalo that ultimately benefited the Jets more than a single player maybe even could have.
“One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: The Tale Of The 2015-16 Jets”
After three seasons where the new Winnipeg Jets were barely an above .500 team, the club finally squeaked into the NHL playoffs for the first time in 2015 and excitement was at an all-time high. They were loaded with young stars like Jacob Trouba, Mark Scheifele and recently traded for Tyler Myers. Led by playoff experienced players like Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, and Dustin Byfuglien. GM Kevin Chveldayoff added to the team’s depth with smart, underrated acquisitions such as Michael Frolik, Drew Stafford, Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak. Ondrej Pavelec in goal finally started playing to the level expected of him when he signed a five year contract to be the Jets franchise goalie.
Even after a disappointing sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, it seemed like the Jets were ready to take their place as a perennial NHL playoff contender. That summer though a decision was made in the Jets front office that while things were good, it wasn’t good enough. Pending unrestricted free agents were allowed to walk, the captain was traded mid-season, while the Jets free-fall to the basement of the Central division was harsh and sudden… And it was done on purpose.
“Failed Takeoff: The Disappointment of the 2018-19 Jets”
Only months removed from the best season in Winnipeg NHL history, expectations were high for the Jets to the point where a deep playoff run towards a Stanley Cup wasn’t just wished for, but expected. It seemed all the pieces were in place as well and after the first two months of the season where the Jets were a respectable 14-8-2. Not bad, but also not the dominance that was expected as Connor Hellebuyck struggled, a second attempt to make Bryan Little a viable second line center was not working out, and questionable lineup decisions left fans wondering just who was truly in charge of the team.
Then came the massive goal scoring slump of Patrik Laine, the injuries to Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey exposed a lack of defensive depth, the stubbornness to keep Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler together on a line when separating them would have been worth trying… All of which led to whispers and allegations of team in-fighting and a fractured dressing room.
Despite all this, they still had a 99 point season and qualified for the playoffs again, but by April the writing was on the wall. The most anticipated hockey season in Winnipeg history ended in severe disappointment.
What are some other Winnipeg Jets documentaries you’d like to see? Maybe something involving the lead up to the Jets drafting Patrik Laine? Connor Hellebuyck’s summer of 2017 where he changed up his training with the purpose of becoming a better goaltender? One that covers the entire Dustin Byfuglien saga from this past season would be must see for sure.
Let us know in the comments, or in our social medias!