The Winnipeg Jets have managed to undo pretty much all of the goodwill that they'd established after their 2-0 start to the season, losing 4 of their last 5 games (3 of them at home) and being thoroughly embarrassed at almost every turn during that stretch. The panic button is being pressed in multiple places around town, and it even appears that some of the TNSE kool-aid drinkers are struggling to stay irrationally positive about this team.
Slow starts are killing this team. Are these professionals not amped up to play in front of this home crowd? Do they not have any pride? Are they not being properly prepared by the coaching staff? Have they packed it in and began actively trying to get their coach fired? Are they not the right group of players for the systems that Noel and co. employ? Are they simply just remnants of the Atlanta Thrashers dressed up in polar-blue?
I have no idea which of the above are correct, or if any (or all) of them are, but I do know this. A change is needed, and a major one at that if the Jets are to pose any threat of making the playoffs at all this season, and because their hands are tied the only option left is to fire Claude Noel.
Now, obviously my love of the #noelogic hashtag would suggest that I'm no fan of our coach, as his ridiculous personnel decisions (Hi James Wright) and overly simplistic systems have overcome my love of his fun quotes and 3-piece suit. Add in his over reliance on a goaltender who is average at best and you have a recipe for disaster, but he is hardly alone in this toxic mixture. Unfortunately for him, though, he's the only major card left in the deck to play.
What else can happen? Is Kevin Cheveldayoff, who's fresh off of his questionable two-year extension and still has 4+ years left on his deal in any clear and present danger? I wish, but strangely Chevy has squeezed his way into Mark Chipman's good graces despite no results and nothing to rely upon but the future. His five-year plan has since been turned into a seven-year plan, and there is no way that Chevy will be removed from his position any time soon. Pity.
How about a big trade? Well, it'll be tough to do. Seven players have some form of no-trade or no-move clause (Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian, Olli Jokinen, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom), and all but Olli have multiple years left on their deals and only Buff is a on a contract that Chevy inherited. I don't see any of them being asked except for maybe Olli at the deadline. Since I doubt that Evander Kane will be moved as he's easily our best player, who does that leave? And if you think that guys with anchors for contracts like Ondrej Pavelec or Grant Clitsome are going anywhere for anything, think again. And since Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba aren't going anywhere either, that leaves a bunch of peripheral players who even if moved would have little effect on this team, unless James Wright ends up in the minors at the expense of, well, anyone.
So unless a core player is asked and agrees to waive a NTC/NMC, or if Chevy is fired 7 games into his new extension, the only logical move (if one is made, of course) is to fire the coach. This current group, despite having been shed of such "awful" players with excellent possession numbers like Alexander Burmistrov and Kyle Wellwood, still display the exact same deficiencies that they've had since day one of the return of the Jets 2.0. And with Chevy and his Thrashers core all locked up, it leaves Claude Noel on the hot seat. While he is hardly the only one to blame here, the "lame duck" extension that he got this past summer pretty much ensured that he'd be the fall guy if a change is to be made. It's easier to fire one coach than it is to move 23 players, and since so many of these players are going to be here for a long time it would make the most sense to move the coach and bring in someone else who will have a more complex system than "dump-and-chase".
The #noeldeathwatch continues...