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Chevy Chickens Out on Deadline Day

By Mike Davidson
Jets Fan Columnist
There are days when pulling for the Winnipeg Jets can be a frustrating proposition. April 3, 2013, Trade Deadline Day, was a shining example.
On the bright side, General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff didn’t overreact or make some knee jerk deal after having won only three of the last ten games. He could have made a deal that would not have helped his team in either the short term or the long term, just for the sake of making a deal.  In other words, if he’d traded Nik Antropov for a third rounder that would have been pointless.  That’s not to say the Jets should re-sign Antropov in the summer, but moving him in the stretch drive wouldn’t have yielded enough return to make it justifiable.
Journalist, Ring Announcer and Winnipeg Jets fan, Mike Davidson

Journalist, Columnist, Ring Announcer and Winnipeg Jets fan, Mike Davidson

Now that I’ve demonstrated a level of sanity to start this rant, let me share with you how I really feel.

Hate to say it, but the Jets GM is a coward, a man who was too frightened of what people would say about him in two years if a prospective trade didn’t pay dividends. Either that, or he is far too indecisive to be a General Manager in the National Hockey League. Take your pick, because it really amounts to one or the other.
Will the Winnipeg Jets find themselves in this same position a year from, now, sitting third in the Eastern Conference by virtue of leading a division that looks a lot more like your average Saturday afternoon beer league?
Not likely, although they will benefit from the competitive imbalance that the NHL created with 14 teams in the West and 16 teams in the East.  When a team finds itself in this position, leading a division, with an opportunity to have home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs — even though they haven’t played all that well. Frankly, with a team that is 18-18-2, Cheveldayoff should thank his lucky stars, and go for it, even if there is a long-term cost.
Marian Gaborik

Marian Gaborik

The Columbus Blue Jackets made a heck of a splash by trading three players and a sixth round pick to the Rangers to get prolific goal scoring rightwinger Marian Gaborik.  The players the Jackets gave up — Derrick Brassard, John Moore, and Derek Dorsett — are decent players, two of whom still have potential upside as former first round picks. Would the Rangers have accepted that trade over beleaguered centre Alexander Burmistrov, defenceman Paul Postma and a second round pick? Many Winnipeg sports media members will scream that trading a future piece like a second rounder goes directly against what the Jets identity is all about.  Those same uninformed people will label Gaborik a “rental” despite the fact he’s signed through next year (I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Dave Hodge and the TSN “Reporters” for pointing out that less than 50 per cent of second round draft picks actually have a significant impact in the NHL).

Kevin Cheveldayoff

Kevin Cheveldayoff

The Jets current slump, in which they have lost four straight and seven out of the last ten, has left them only two points ahead of the Washington Capitals, a term surging up the standings in a similar fashion to last year’s stretch run when they squeaked into the playoffs.  The Jets lack of scoring has been alarming and Cheveldayoff’s passive acceptance of a fate that seems include a failure to make the playoffs, will be seen as unacceptable by a large faction of passionate, and significantly poorer, Jets fans.

However, if Cheveldayoff is convinced the team isn’t good enough to have any success in the playoffs, why would he then contradict himself and not deal pending unrestricted free agent Ron Hainsey?  After seeing Robin Regehr, and Douglas Murray fetch two second rounders, and Jay Bouwmeester get two prospects and a first rounder, why not focus on trading an asset with diminishing gains?

Mark Chipman

Mark Chipman

How will owner Mark Chipman accept his team’s fate, a fate that Cheveldayoff appears to have accepted?  The financial windfall of a Jets playoff berth would have been a welcomed outcome.  With home ice advantage, and against the sixth seed in the East, the Jets could have even stretched that bonus revenue into two rounds, or four, maybe five home games.  That would add up to at least $8 million. You really couldn’t blame the Jets owner if he reacted to the potential of his team blowing the division lead — combined with the inaction of GM Kevin Cheveldayoff — by firing him, if and when the team misses the post-season.  I know if I cost my boss a few million dollars in revenue, I would be collecting Employment Insurance very shortly thereafter.

If you’ve liked anything I’ve shared today, please feel free to follow me on twitter @WFXWrestling, and even if you want to call me out on my opinions, feel free to tweet me just the same.  I could be dead wrong reacting to the efforts of Kevin Cheveldayoff this way, but I’m a firm believer that someone needs to be held accountable if the Jets miss the playoffs.  And the indecisive cowardly action of  the team’s general manager on Trade Deadline Day seems like a great place to start.
The Five Players who would have had an immediate impact on the Winnipeg Jets had Kevin Cheveldayoff been in a dealing kind of mood:
Marian Gaborik

Marian Gaborik

1- Marian Gaborik –– (RW, 35GP-9G-10A-19PTS) Traded from the New York Rangers to Columbus Blue Jackets (for Derick Brassard, John Moore, Derek Dorsett, and a 6th Round Pick), the Jets may well have had the excess accessories to make the deal more appealing for the Rangers and could have used the pure goal scoring ability of Gaborik.  He’s the kind of game changing forward that could have positive effects on either of the Jets top two lines, and is signed through 2014.  He waived his no trade clause to join Blue Jackets.

2- Mike Cammalleri –– (LW/C, 31GP-11G-14A-25PTS) The Flames are in the midst of a massive rebuild, and there is no reason to believe that Cammalleri wouldn’t welcome a chance to play in the post season with the Southeast Division leading Jets.  Likely a better option as a Centre for the Jets, he was definitely in play for the right price.  Would Alexander Burmistrov, Paul Postma and a 2nd round pick have done the trick?
Drew Stafford

Drew Stafford

3- Drew Stafford –– (RW, 35GP-5G-8A-13PTS) Throughout deadline day, the big story in Winnipeg Sports Media circles was the potential of a Drew Stafford for Alexander Burmistrov deal that never materialized.  Stafford is experiencing his struggles this season, and there is way too much potential that he could have been a bust (see Olli Jokinen for example) but there is reason to believe there was a deal to be had.  Might have well been worth the roll of the dice.

4- Lee Stempniak –– (RW, 34GP-7G-16A-23PTS) A streaky scorer who was available for the right price (see Mike Cammalleri).  Is a second round draft choice (projected to be 55th-60th overall)  acquired from Chicago in the Johnny Oduya trade expendable?  I think so especially for someone who knows how to play with Olli Jokinen.
Radim Vrbata

Radim Vrbata

5- Radim Vrbata –– (RW, 22GP-7G-11A-18PTS) The Coyotes ultimately made small moves on deadline day, but the guy Yotes didn’t move would have fit nicely into the Jets second line.  Paul Postma and a 3rd might have fetched him too, we just won’t ever know.

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