There must have been a little satisfaction for Kevin Cheveldayoff on Thursday as he spoke to Winnipeg’s media. If you watched, or listened, the Jets’ GM tried to play it simple, humble, low key — oh, so low key.
But underneath the discussions of pride, process and being invested in Winnipeg, you could see that there was a sense of satisfaction for this GM and his team at the midway point.
And why not? Everything — or almost everything — has gone Kevin’s way this season: the re-signing of two key players, in Scheifele and Hellebuyck to long term deals; the extension for Nino Niederriter; the acquisition of a quality back-up goaltender; and of course, the trade of a troubled Pierre-Luc Dubois for three players. All these moves have worked.
To know that this team is the number one team in the National Hockey League in the second week of January is by far one of the two best stories in the whole league this season (the other being the Vancouver Canucks). We have talked so much about this team’s depth all season, and with good reason. The forwards and the defence have all contributed to the scoring prowess of the Jets, who have the best 5-on-5 team in the whole league. But it’s the team defence, which has allowed three goals or less in 31 games and counting, that has heads turning.
To watch Cheveldayoff on Thursday put a smile on my face, even though it didn’t put one on his. As much as he said the players are invested in the process, and the pride they have in playing for each other, you couldn’t help feel the sense of satisfaction that Kevin had for what had to happen in the last eight months, on and off the ice.
And on the other hand, he was right: we should all acknowledge the job isn’t done yet. The playoffs aren’t clinched yet. But for a few minutes on this Friday, stop, enjoy the ride, and smile. With 60 points, the Winnipeg Jets are number one in the National Hockey League.
John Shannon on the Jets: January 10
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