A few days ago the Winnipeg Jets said goodbye to three long-time and valued members of the team. Ondrej Pavelec, Chris Thorburn, and Mark Stuart have all been with the team since the Atlanta days and they have contributed to making the team who they are today. Their dedication and willingness to do whatever was needed to make the Jets better was inspiring.
Mark Stuart: It is reasonable to believe that the Jets actually tried to trade Stuart before buying him out because no one was willing to trade for him. The Jets did one final favour to Stuart and agreed to pay him to not play for them for two years so they could set him free and he could see what was out there for him. So far, nothing.
Until this season, Stuart was a mainstay on the Jets blueline. He was great at working really hard and hitting guys at bad times. He was Jacob Trouba’s babysitter, except Trouba ended up babysitting him more often than no. For all his deficiencies, Stuart worked hard and by all accounts was a good teammate. It seems as though opinions of him were coloured by the fact the Jets seemed to love everything he did, even when his play was detrimental to the team.
Ondrej Pavelec: The Jets rarely NHL average goalie is now the back-up to Henrik Lundqvist with the New York Rangers. Whenever you can sign a guy who was in the AHL most of last season for over a million dollars. It is odd that he was signed so quickly and for what seems like a lot for a guy who is simply not very good.
Pavelec was fun to watch because he was so unpredictable in his play. You never knew if he would be in position to make a save or not and even if he was not in position, it was always fun to see if he would lunge desperately and somehow stop the puck. There were the times he played like a disconnected controller, the times he got run over by his teammates, and the times he blamed everyone else for a loss when he let in three or more goals.
Chris Thorburn: I still remember the moment. I was eating supper at work and the alert came that Chris Thorburn had been signed to a three-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets. It was so close to free agency. That was the first article I ever wrote on my phone. He was often just there in the line-up, until they decided he needed more chances to not score and therefore moved him up in the line-up.
Maybe Thorburn’s greatest moment as a Winnipeg Jet was sacrificing his face to Zdeno Chara for some reason. His greatest moment for the franchise came when he called out the Atlanta Spirit for being terrible. Sometimes, it is what you say off the ice that really matters.
This is it for these three long-tenured Jets. They were rarely fantastic. They were often confounding. They were also willing to do whatever they were capable of doing to help the Jets win every game. They fell terribly short, but it is not their fault that they were not fit for the roles they were played in. Goodbye, Sweet Princes.