It was a little less than 5 years ago when talks about a NHL team back in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The struggling (then) Phoenix Coyotes were bankrupt and the City of Glendale, Arizona were tasked with covering the costs of the team. The NHL who owned them at the time said either you cover the costs or we walk. So at the 11th hour, the City of Glendale decided to pick up te tab to save their team. So now what would happen with the Winnipeg group that was looking for a NHL team? Sights turned to the East coast to a struggling Atlanta Thrashers franchise who made the playoffs once in 10 years and never won a single game in the playoffs (they were swept by the New York Rangers).
Atlanta was a team that struggled mightily despite top picks which were Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley (who was later traded for Marian Hossa). When it seemed like no NHL franchise could survive in Georgia, the team was sold to True North Sports and Entertainment. The team was immediately relocated to Winnipeg to play out of the MTS Center. Due to the swift movement of Atlanta to Winnipeg, the newly formed Jets had to play in the (then) Southeast Division with Washington, Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina.
The team did had a pretty decent season despite all the travel going 37-35-10 for 84 points, 8 points out of the 8th spot. The leading point getter was Blake Wheeler who has 64 points while the leading goal scorer was Evander Kane with 30 goals. The top defenseman was Tobias Enstrom who has put up another solid 30 point season. The top goalie was Ondrej Pavalec who posted a 29-28-1 record with a .906 save percentage and a 2.91 G.A.A in 68 games.
The lockout shortened 2012-2013 season saw the Winnipeg Jets come oh so close to making the playoffs. How close you ask? They finished 9th with 51 points while the New York Islanders came 8th with 55 points. Yea that close. The Jet's still played in the Eastern Conference in the Southeast Division but that would all change next season after the NHL and NHLPA came to an agreement for realignment. In the shortened season, Andrew Ladd led the team in assists and points (28,46) while Blake Wheeler led the team in goals (19). Dustin Byfuglien was the leading point getter on defense with 28. Ondrej Pavalec was the man between the pipes again starting 44 games going 21-20-3 with a .905 save percentage and a 2.80 G.A.A. Not the best but not the worst.
The Jet's entered the new season finally in a division/conference in their own timezone. The problem? That division included the defending Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks, the young Colorado Avalanche led by legendary goalie Patrick Roy, the Dallas Stars who had acquired Tyler Seguin to go along with Jamie Benn, the always tough Minnesota Wild who has just signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter as Free Agents, the Nashville Predators left by a strong defense and amazing goaltending by Pekka Rinne, and the perennial Stanley Cup favourites the St.Louis Blues. Good stuff. After inching so close to playoff hockey the Jet's had a tough time in their new division as the top three in their division had 112,111 and 107 points which meant if they wanted playoff hockey they'd have to be a wildcard. The Jet's finished with a 37-35-10 record good enough for 84 points, 7 points out of the final wildcard spot. The leading point getter was again Blake Wheeler with 69 who also tied Bryan Little in assists with 41. The leading goal scorer was Blake Wheeler who scored 28 goals. The leading defenseman was Dustin Byfuglien who scored 20 goals and had 36 assists for 56 points. Arguably the better goalie was Al Montoya who played in 28 games going 13-8-3 with a .920 save percentage and a 2.30 G.A.A. Ondrej Pavalec played in 57 games going 22-26-7 with a .901 save percentage and a 3.01 G.A.A. Not very good for a number 1 goalie.
Now here we are gearing up for the 2014-2015 season. Get ready for some big news