If anyone thought that Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was playing with kids gloves, he proved for certain that wasn't the case earlier this week.
With the team mired in life on the mediocrity roller coaster, Winnipeg's front office was hard at work Wednesday, begining with the shipment of a 2013 7th round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the services of noted underachiever, Eric Tangradi. Later that evening, Cheveldayoff was busy freeing a roster spot for Tangradi -- a player to whom waiver exemptions do not apply -- jettisoning Alexei Ponikarovsky to the New Jersey Devils for a fourth round pick in 2013 and a seventh in 2014.
To recap, the Jets replace Ponikarovsky with Tangradi while accumulating two draft picks for the price of one.
Does this series of deals make the Jets impactfully better today? No. Only a fool would argue that Tangradi outranks Ponikarovksy in anything other than unrealized potential. But the swaps achieve more than what simple roster bolstering could. They send a message that rings loud and clear throughout the Jets' dressing room that mediocrity will not be tolerated.
Now, Alexei Ponikarovsky has been the least of Winnipeg's problems, to be sure. In fact, he's been one of the most consistent players through the quarter pole this year. But as a General Manager, you can't sell the farm (Kane, Little, Wheeler) in order to make a statement.
Some have likened Winnipeg's lackluster nonchalance to the most aggressive of cancers, hellbent on compromising the integrity of the team. While it's a stance that may be a tad overexaggerated, one can't deny the type of country club vibe this team has been known to exuberaet time and time again over its past ninety-four games.
Disposing of Ponikarovsky should be a wake-up call to any and all his former teammates who have been known to wrinkle their noses, shrug their shoulders and say "oh well, next time" after as the losses pile up. It's an attitude that propagates future failures and allows the country club atmosphere to live on and grow. Ponikarovsky's departure should be seen as a cautionary tale of what could happen should 100% effort not be achieved night in, night out.
And again, this isn't to slag on Poni, there could be a number of players on one-year deals in his situation right now. Lou Lamoriello clearly named his price, one which TNSE couldn't refuse, prompting them to put pen to paper on this transaction toute suite.
One can only hope that these trades light a fire under a team who has only scored five times in its last three games. Otherwise, the roller coaster of mediocrity will continue to attract gullible tourists, gobsmacked and all too eager to throw down their $150 per ticket without a care in the world. But the novelty will wear off. At some point, the queasy feeling of being ripped off by an underwhelming product will be too much for some to bear.
Do you think that Winnipeg's recent activity was done to send a message or rather to stock up for what has the makings of a deep draft? Let us know in the comments section!