Maybe it's because we're about to enter 2016. Maybe it's because I'm mellowing in my old age. Maybe it's because I have two young daughters that are making me happier every day. Or maybe it's because I said I'd write a positive Chevy article if I raised $100 for my Movember campaign. But today, I'm writing a positive article about Chevy!
Okay, fine, it's because I said I'd write this article if I raised the money for Movember and I did (thanks to my sponsors Jarret, Helen, Mike, Dean, Alan and Scott!), but maybe through this exercise it'll help soften my stance on our GM going forward. So here goes nothing:
Hi Chevy. I've been hard on you over the years, as I haven't been the biggest fan of both the moves you've made and the moves you haven't made. I started the #whatdidchevydotoday hashtag to voice some of this displeasure on social media, as I was trying to fill in the blanks about what you do everyday since you don't do or say much.
But as the 5th season of the Winnipeg Jets 2.0 saunters on, and as the calendar flips over to 2016, I've begun to see that perhaps you are doing a good job, Chevy. And by that, you're doing exactly what you were hired to do.
When Bill Watters went on to the Rona Roundtable with Rick Ralph (whoa, that's a lot of R's) a few weeks back and dropped the big, and severely under reported, bombshell about how Mark Chipman "interferes" with the day-to-day operations of the Jets, it got me and some other people talking. Just how much does Chipman interfere in terms of hockey operations?
Now, I'm not a huge fan of Watters and think a lot of what he says is nonsense, and this could be too, but as a former NHL executive it's foolish to think that he doesn't have some league connections. At the very least, there's a little bit of smoke, so lets run with this theory.
So Chevy, how much does Chipper interfere in your day-to-day business? I have no doubt that you have some autonomy over your team and some roster decisions, but it has been well documented that the big boss has sat in on some meetings with you and has plenty of say when it comes to big money contract decisions.
I may be way off here, but I'm wondering if you were hired with the explicit goal to attempt to be competitive during the honeymoon period while also trying to build for the future. And though I think that's a terrible idea, as trying to have your cake and eat it too in this league results in a bubble team remaining a bubble team while worse teams reload with top picks, I'm perhaps now willing to give you a pass if your hands are tied in this plan.
I used to think that the buck stopped with the GM, as its your position that officially signs off on all player personnel moves, but if Chipman also has his hands on the wheel then you deserve less flack than I've given. That's why I've begun using the hashtag #howdidchipmaninterferetoday a few times lately. I hope you've enjoyed that.
Another area that I'm willing to give you plenty of credit in is the draft, as it appears that you and your staff have a knack for locating amateur talent. Though there's been some missteps over the years, your past few drafts have been widely praised across the hockey world.
My concern is that I'm not sure you've drafted well enough from your 7-13th overall draft positions to improve quickly enough relative to other teams that have drafted higher, which I believe Winnipeg has to do as an undesirable UFA location. But, this plays into the aforementioned plan of having to remain "competitive" for the 8th spot every year, which obviously hurts your ability to end up with a high pick.
Would Chipman have green-lit the pure tanking strategy that Tim Murray was allowed to do in Buffalo last year? I'm not so sure. And I suppose I can't fault you for that.
As it is, I now believe that there is a non-zero percent chance that you have done an excellent job following a flawed mandate given to you by a potentially meddling owner. Had it been up to me, the Thrashers would've been blown up early on in the honeymoon of the Jets 2.0 when fan interest was guaranteed regardless of what product was put on the ice, but perhaps that option wasn't given to you.
And if that is the case, you've done a great job carrying out this flawed plan and attempting to out-draft the other 29 franchises. Unfortunately, it hasn't yielded success in terms of playoff wins or true competitiveness for the Cup, but thats not a surprise as the plan wasn't very good. But maybe now we know the answer #howdidchipmaninterferetoday.
So there's my positive piece on Chevy. Or at least as positive as I could be. But this goodwill will disappear quickly if the Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien situations don't come to a satisfactory conclusion. But until we know how those turn out, Chevy can enjoy at least a little bit of a reprieve from me. So Happy New Year everyone. We'll see how long this new resolution lasts for me.