Friday, April 27: That was the last day of an eventful NHL season for the Winnipeg Jets. It was Game 5 of that first-round series versus the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Vegas Golden Knights.
It marked the end of a frustrating season that began with such promise. The Jets were the talk of the league for a while. There were trophies to be discussed for Morrissey and Hellebucyk. And as quickly as the enthusiasm throughout the whole province rose, the consternation and concern in the second half of the season made a playoff berth a relief, rather than an expectation.
Which leads to questions. Why will this season be any different? What has changed? Oh sure, Blake Wheeler is gone, and so is Pierre-Luc Dubois. Gabe Vilardi and Alex Iaffalo help with the depth, and maybe someone like Brad Lambert can put a few pucks in the net. This team continues to have some top-end talent, like Connor and Ehlers. While Josh Morrissey eventually did not have that Norris-calibre season last year, he has become one of the NHL’s elite blueliners. There is tons to be optimistic about, really.
Oh yes, questions will continue to swirl about the futures of both Mark Schiefele and Connor Hellebucyk. Do they want to be Jets? Can the team afford to sign them? Can they afford not to sign them?
Questions will run amuck here for a little while longer — and remember this date: March 8, 2024. That’s NHL trade deadline day.
Will this season be different? Quite simply — for this group — it has to be!
Winnipeg Jets to launch 2023-24 season with annual Fan Fest celebration
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.