blink.... blink.... blink.... blink....
As I stared intensely at the cursor's incessant blinking on my blank computer screen I couldn't help but feel like a hack. Scrolling through some open internet tabs in search of a starting point for this article, I came across an aptitude survey taken months back on a site called BiteChange.com. It tells me the career I'm best suited for is one of a writer.
"You have an unmatched skill for creating vast worlds both through facts and pure imagination. Your mind is full of creativity, artistry, and expression. Your heart gracefully guides your hands as you work to bring what is truly your spirit to lfe. You were truly meant to guide the world with your words."
Fuck you, BiteChange.com.
My mind is full of many things. It's a collection or random thoughts keenly woven together by a mixture of A.D.D. and hyperactivity. One thing it is not full of is creativity.
Bloggers across North America are getting paid. Some now work for NHL teams. Others at TSN. A few more at Sportsnet. Meanwhile I can't even mash together two semi-coherent sentences.
Disheartened, my eyes glanced upward to a framed document on my wall. Baccalauréat en arts, it reads. It was administered to me by the Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface via the University of Manitoba in 2008. Don't let the sound of it fool you, in english it's merely an Arts Degree masked to sound more important than it is. I earned it by minoring in English Literature; a class I originally signed up for my sophomore year as a GPA booster. That's right, I'm such the hack that I graduated from a French-speaking university with a minor in English.
blink.... blink.... blink.... blink....
I reach minute thirty of staring at the blank screen that continues to mock me. A wave of panic and frustration have crashed over my senses. The last time I wrote a word for this website was back in April of this year. Have I really lost my touch? Should I even bother continuing? I strain to find a single creative idea in the bastion of useless information bouncing around my mind. All the while, the cursor continues to blink.
blink.... blink.... blink.... blink....
Exhausted from what was a fruitless endeavour, I shut my computer screen before the impulse to punch a hole through it took me to the point of no return. I turn on some Taylor Swift to try to feel less shitty about myself. I'm done before I could ever start. A born loser if there ever was one.
I am the Winnipeg Jets.
To the pessimistic fan, the Jets' 2014-15 season harbingers on chaos and disaster. Gone is a free agency period in which the only significant roster transaction was signing centre Matthieu Perreault to a three year deal; a contract which only serves to replace that of an aging Olli Jokinen on the depth chart. The pessimistic fan will tell you that simply swapping one third line player for another third line player isn't exactly the model of calculated improvement. For example, if you take the number one and subtract it by one before then adding an additional one, you don't somehow magically end up at the number two. You're back at one, right where you left off.
These are your Winnipeg Jets, the NHL's blueprint for how to fill and replace while remaining rudderless.
For many pessimists, this season is already over before it started. Much like this article was doomed to fall flat on its face before the first keystroke was hit, so are the Winnipeg Jets doomed to repeat their past history of stagnancy. Hey, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, well... you know how it goes.
There is silver lining though. For the optimistic fan, the 2014-15 season brings with it one of hope and prosperity. A chance for young players the likes of Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Mark Scheifele, and Jacob Trouba to continue perfecting their craft while rounding out their skill sets, ushering in the new era of NHL stars. Prospects the likes of Josh Morrissey, Nicolas Petan, Adam Lowry, Connor Hellebuyck, and Nikolaj Ehlers will be given a chance to learn and grow, building a second wave of high caliber hockey players waiting in the wings for their chance in the NHL. For these players, the sky is the limit on the potential they possess. When Winnipeg's proverbial Michaelangelo's David is finally faultless, we will look back on 2014-15 as the true turning point.
We don't know what the future brings. Though we have enough statistical evidence pointing to another ho-hum season, there's always the possibility for these Winnipeg Jets to win in spite of their flaws and become this year's version of the Colorado Avalanche. Last year this editorial spoke to the importance blind hope in sports. It is that blind hope that fuels my optimism that this will be a successful season in Winnipeg, in one way or another. So regardless your pessimistic or optimistic views, let's set aside our differing views to reach some mutual ground.
The greatest sport in the world is back to business. It's time to get back to passionately following the sport we love. All thirty teams have a clean slate. Michaelangelo's David awaits its perfection.
Now, onto the Love Hate.
Three things I love this week
Hockey's back: While rookie camps and showcase tournaments are all well and good, nothing quite symbolizes the return to hockey quite like the doors of the MTS IcePlex opening for September training camp. It has been a long, slow summer and all sights are now set on Winnipeg's preseason debut against the Minnesota Wild tonight. Puck drop cannot come soon enough.
Matthieu Perreault's contract: I know, I know, Matthieu Perreault signing back in July is hardly relevant to you in late September. But since it has been eons since I have written a Love Hate for this site, I figured I should speak to how much I truly love this deal. If I were able to have a spousal affair, it wouldn't be with Olivia Munn, Scarlett Johansson, or Jessica Alba circa 2007. No, my affair would be with Matthieu Perreault's contract. That document would have free reign on my body. Just saying. In all seriousness, brining in Perreault -- a former Washington Capital (swoon) -- is a giant boon for a team needing top nine talent. He is shifty, elusive, and fantastic in the face-off circle. Check, check, triple check. He's going to put up points.
Taylor Swift: Dear Taylor, we've never met, but I just wanted to thank you for Shake It Off. It helped me get off the mat in writing this article and it feels good to be back doing something I'm extremely passionate about. Thanks again.
Three things I hate this week
Ondrej Pavelec's employment: I admit to being a broken record at this point but seriously, you have a compliance buyout in your back pocket. Two of them in fact. Ondrej Pavelec stinks. Even his most ardent supporters are realizing this. So I still can't comprehend how nobody in the Jets' front office hasn't realized that by cutting Pavelec loose, using the additional cash on improving the roster and using the fill and replace technique with replacement level goaltending they'd actually be in a much better place. Having said that, I wish him the best of luck in the upcoming season. I'm desperately hoping that he can somehow put it together.
Dustin Byfuglien's deployment: You might think I'm crazy in saying this but Dustin Byfuglien has been Winnipeg's best player up to this point. So I apologize if I'm not on board with cutting his playing time and plugging him on the third line despite his supreme puck-moving skills from the backend. Last week this site ran an analytical review of forward Buff vs. defenceman Buff and the results echo my sentiments. I'm hopeful that this science experiment will finally yield the results that usher in his redeployment to the blue line but unfortunately I'm not in a position to be holding my breath.
Having to hustle: Truth be told, it has been far too long since I last wrote on this site. Because of this, gone is the ability to string together words, sentences, or simple turns of phrase with the quickness of the hiccup. I'm hopeful that this first edition -- albeit kind of lame, not to mention a repetition of previous installments (super lame) -- is enough to get the juices flowing again. I'll see y'all back here next Monday with more fresh content.