The life of an NHL hockey player is not always easy. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (Ethan Hawke doppelganger) was recently released through waivers, and a Twitter debate ensued as to whether he was the appropriate fringe Winnipeg Jet deserving of relegation. Job security is not a luxury afforded to most NHL players.
Since the Jets return to Winnipeg in 2011, close to 150 skaters have donned a Jets uniform. For every Blake Wheeler and Mark Schefiele there is an Andrei Chibisov – a journeyman who struggles to find consistent longevity in the professional ranks.
In order to recognize their contributions (or lack thereof), I have created some Winnipeg Jets 2.0 ‘alternative’ All-Star teams – ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Some of these fake starting rosters are based on merit, and others, just a sense of whimsy:
Winnipeg Jets – All “(Stone) Hands” Team
James Wright – Logan Stanley – Nathan Beaulieu – Nic Petan – Alexander Burmistrov
This team is populated with blue-collar types – adept at laying bricks. While perhaps gifted in other areas, these guys struggle to put the puck in the net. On the back end, Beaulieu and Stanley have shooting percentages of 0.9% and 1.38% respectively – each recording over 100 shots on net with the Jets.
The speedy James Wright (2.4%) would have been equally proficient playing without a stick, and both Petan (4.6%) and Burmistrov (8.2%) were surprisingly inept goal scorers despite their obvious skill. That said, I have fond memories of each, proving that goal-scoring is not a barrier to entry for an NHLer.
Winnipeg Jets – All “Star of An Adult Movie Name” Team
Grant Clitsome – Tucker Poolman – Kyle Wellwood – Drew Stafford – Declan Chisholm
This is why you come to this space – for hard, biting analysis (pun intended). At the risk of embarrassing my parents, this was fun. Wellwood is speciously the most apropos of the adult-themed nomenclature, but then again, half these movies involve a pool man in some capacity – so who knows? Keep it classy fellas.
Finishing last (again, pun intended): Bryan Little
Winnipeg Jets – All “Mike Tyson” Team
Chris Thorburn – Adam Lowry – Mark Stuart – Anthony Peluso – Adam Pardy
Winnipeg Jets 2.0 hasn’t seen the likes of a Tie Domi or Jim Kyte, nor are we likely to. Ostensibly, that is because fighting is down across the board in the NHL and has been for years. Courtesy of hockeyfights.com, Chris Thorburn leads the way with 55 fights for the Jets, and a distant second goes to Adam Lowry with 24. Peluso and Stuart were both capable in a scrap, to the point where Peluso’s entire NHL career was predicated on his ability to chuck ‘em.
Adam Pardy is included only because a fan stole his helmet during a skirmish, and that is worthy of recognition on its own. Otherwise, I think I would give the nod to Tanner Glass – who in one season with the Jets fought 7 times.
Winnipeg Jets – All “Keebler” Team
Tim Stapleton – Kyle Wellwood – Nic Petan – Toby Enstrom – Ville Heinola
Good things come in small packages – mostly anyway. Tim Stapleton was listed at 5’8” and 180 lbs. Having met him on a few occasions, I put those measurements at around 5’6” and 165 lbs. Nic Petan was similarly the benefactor of some creative accounting when it came to his official size.
All 5 are undersized relative to your typical NHLer, but varyingly effective nonetheless. As noted before, size on its own is not an asset, and these guys proved that you don’t need to be big to carve out a role in the NHL.
Winnipeg Jets – All “Face-Off” Team
Jim Slater – Chris Thorburn – Kevin Stenlund – Nick Shore – Paul Stastny
Plenty of talk about faceoffs these days, so it is worthwhile to highlight Winnipeg Jets 2.0’s most prolific draw-men. Who is Nick Shore? He played 42 games for the Jets in 2019-20 and won 55% of his faceoffs. Slater took close to 2500 draws for the Winnipeg Jets and won 56% of them.
Stenlund has proven himself very useful at the dot this year and has been called upon more and more to take key situational faceoffs. It’s no surprise then that Jonathan Toews is a fan favorite given his faceoff abilities.
Winnipeg Jets – All “Occupation” Team
Andrew Copp – Morgan Barron – Chris Mason/Steve Mason – Paul Postma – Tucker Poolman
A Baron is more of a designation rather than a job, but two civil servants make the list – as a cop and a postma(n). Not one, but two masons, and Poolman makes his second appearance on this illustrious list.
If the Jets could ever finagle Darnell Nurse out of Edmonton, we’d truly have a functional group of dedicated professionals.
Winnipeg Jets – All “Heart” Team
Brandon Tanev – Adam Lowry – Mathieu Perreault – Mikey Eyssimont – Matt Halischuk
These players give everything they can – every night. Other deserving candidates include Mark Stuart and Chris Thorburn, but Mathieu Perreault was undoubtedly my favorite. He and Brandon Tanev were whirling dervishes on the ice, and constant disrupters of play. Many advocate for Lowry to be the next captain of the Winnipeg Jets given his consistent effort, and it’s tough to argue against his contributions night-to-night. The heart wants what the heart wants.
Winnipeg Jets – All “Guy You Want to Meet At A Party” Team
Patrik Laine – Evander Kane – Blake Wheeler – Nate Schmidt – Dustin Byfuglien
Lots of character, and characters in this group. Plenty of ink has been spilled about Evander Kane and his general unlikableness – but as long as you’re not looking for tax tips, I imagine he would be an interesting hang.
Wheeler would act as the chaperone here, but all stories indicate that there is more behind his sometimes-steely exterior. If someone could arrange a dinner with Byfuglien, Schmidt and Laine I would owe you an eternal debt of gratitude. That would be fun.
Well, that’s it. Thank you to all the nominees. These fake awards were difficult to administer, and any omissions were not intended to diminish any player contributions. Remember – an organization is only as strong as its weakest link.