The Winnipeg Jets are currently 20-10-1 and sit 7th overall. With the holiday season upon us, it is time for reflection and introspection. So how do we evaluate the Jets’ season to date? It is also time to partake in some holiday traditions. One such tradition is the Christmas movie. Let’s combine the two concepts (Jets and movies) into a Frankenstein amalgam of nonsense.
To reflect on the Jets’ season thus far, I’m going to pay homage to THE greatest Christmas movie of all time: “National Lampoon’s: Christmas Vacation”. Released on December 1, 1989, ‘Christmas Vacation’ follows a befuddled Clark Griswold (played by a perfect-for-the-role Chevy Chase) through the trials and tribulations of family dynamics over the holidays. It’s crude, episodic and some of the jokes don’t work, but ‘Christmas Vacation’ hits the perfect note of sentimental and uproarious. It is infinitely rewatchable.
So, without further ado, instead of awards, I’m handing out 10 quotes and exchanges from “Christmas Vacation” to the best and worst of the Winnipeg Jets during this 2022-2023 season:
1. “Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here.” — Clark Griswold
This quote can be attributed to the Jets’ current injury woes. Nik Ehlers’ prolonged absence aside, the team just lost Blake Wheeler and Nate Schmidt for at least a month. It’s an emergency triage unit out there. Chevy will need to engage reinforcements quickly if the Jets want to maintain their current trajectory. Is Captain Serious a possibility? I know most Winnipeg Jets fans would salivate at the prospect of the home-grown Stanley Cup champion returning to Winnipeg – but we shall see. Speaking of Chicago…
2. Todd Chester: “Hey Griswold, where do you think you’re gonna put a tree that big?”
Clark Griswold: “Bend over and I’ll show you.”
This goes to the Chicago Blackhawks. 15% of the Jets’ wins this year have been courtesy of the Blackhawks, all while outscoring their former division rivals 14 to 3. It has been complete domination. The Griswolds are from Chicago, so the symmetry here is outstanding. I am also certain that Cousin Eddie would have been a huge hockey fan. Keep up the good work Chicago.
3. “Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.” — Cousin Eddie
This is for Mark Scheifele. He has been a gift this year and leads all Jets in goals thus far (18). Outside of Hellebuyck, no other Jet has been as consistent and/or as brilliant. The real gift however is watching Perfetti and Scheifele ‘think’ the game together. Both see the ice at an elite level, and the chemistry between the two is starting to rival Chase and D’Angelo.
4. Audrey Griswold: “He worked really hard Grandpa.”
Grandpa: “So do washing machines.”
This is for Logan Stanley. I know he worked hard to come back from injury, but the Winnipeg Jets are just a better hockey team without him on the ice. Re-watching Tyler Myers hits home how fluid some tall men can look on skates (despite his flaws). Sadly, Stanley is more washing machine than water.
5. “He’s cute, ain’t he? Only problem is, he’s got a little bit of Mississippi leg hound in him. Mood catches him right, he’ll grab your leg and just go to town. You don’t want him around if you’re wearing short pants, if y’know what I mean!” — Cousin Eddie
This is for Adam Lowry. Lowry has some dog in him. There was a lively Twitter debate following Lowry’s fight against Nashville’s Jeannot on the merits of fisticuffs. Schmidt was injured on the catalytic play, so Lowry was simply sticking up for a teammate (as he does regularly). The merits of fighting can be debated, but what can’t be debated is the value Lowry brings to this team.
6. “Honey, do you honestly think I would check thousands of tiny little lights if I didn’t make sure the extension cord was plugged in?” -Clark Griswold
Small sample size notwithstanding, this quote is for Coach Bones. For years we thought the Winnipeg Jets had strung together a really nice roster, but there was no spark – no electricity. Bowness has been that spark. It turns out that the Jets just hadn’t been plugged in, but Hallelujah, the lights are now on.
7. “I don’t know if I ought to go sailing down no hill with nothing between the ground and my brain but a piece of government plastic.” — Cousin Eddie
This is for Connor Hellebuyck. Nothing but plastic and padding protect him against the best scorers in the league, yet his ironman streak continues. He is once again the best goalie in the league. Nothing needs to be said in this space that hasn’t been already said here.
8. Clark Griswold: “Where’s Eddie? He usually eats these things.”
Catherine, Eddie’s wife: “Oh, not recently. He read that squirrels are high in cholesterol.”
Cousin Eddie showed improved decision-making (albeit hilariously) so this is given to Kevin Cheveldayoff. Yes, that Kevin Cheveldayoff. The additions of Gagner, Maenalanen, and Jonsson-Fjallby have greatly improved our bottom 6 forward group, and he gets some credit for Gustafsson and Eyssimont as well. Even the hiring of Bowness (which was much maligned at the time) has paid off. Credit where credit is due Chevy.
9. “Hallelujah! Holy sh#t! Where’s the Tylenol?” — Clark Griswold
This goes to the Winnipeg Jets fan experience. The Jets have played in 8 overtime games already (tied for 5th) and are an incredible 7-0-1 in those contests. How the Jets are finding themselves in overtime induces heart attack levels of panic. Comeback wins, squandered leads, and last-minute goals define a significant portion of this season for the Jets. It speaks to their toughness that they have largely prevailed in these OT battles, but my hairline and sanity can’t take much more. Where is the Tylenol indeed.
10. “If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised.” — Clark Griswold
This is for the Winnipeg Jets’ start to the season. Pundits and experts alike had the Jets projected as a middling to below-average team this year, so this has been revelatory. I realize that we are not even halfway through the season, but this is the best start in Winnipeg Jets 2.0 history. With the right moves, the Jets could attack the jugular of the league this year. Or, as Cousin Eddie puts it – “Save the neck for me Clark.”