Professional athletes in any sport are at the highest possible levels of overall athletic abilities. There are also exceptional athletes who are able play professionally in multiple sports, like Bo Jackson and Deon Sanders. In the world of hockey, the best examples of high level multiple sport athletes are Gerry James (played professionally with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Blue Bombers) and Hayley Wickenheiser (Olympic level athlete in both hockey and softball). To be able to excel at such a high level at multiple sports is rare, and requires exceptional levels of strength, speed, coordination.
During our temporary period of isolation, I have compiled my list of who I feel on the Winnipeg Jets would be the best in random measurements of athletic abilities, using my own random categories, along with my unscientific rationale. Please feel free to discuss, debate, or come up with your own standards in the comments section.
Strongest Winnipeg Jet
For this let’s use power lifting standards – deadlift; bench press; back squat – combined total of all three lifts. My guesses in order.
Laurent Brossoit – Big guy, and goalies are way stronger than you think
Patrik Laine – He’s one of those guys you hate at a gym. Looks a bit out of shape, but huge. Walks up to a deadlift bar and picks up 400lbs like he’s lifting a toddler.
Andrew Copp – He looks like he is obsessive about working out, and strong.
Bonus – Mathieu Perreault – He doesn’t have the size, but I bet is stronger than you think. He’d be top six.
Winner of team slam dunk competition
The Jets have some, tall athletic players. I think quite a few could dunk, but I’m ranking on style. Who would be closer to a Dr. J dunk, versus a Billy Hoyle from the movie White Men Can’t Jump, one time dunk.
Blake Wheeler – He’s tall, competitive, American. I bet he was a pretty good basketball player in high school.
Jansen Harkins - Listed at 6’2”, American. He can dunk.
Nikolaj Ehlers – Surprise! I honestly think he has hops. At just six feet tall, he gets style points just for getting up there.
Bonus – Player most likely to have never shot a basketball – Dmitry Kulikov. I could be totally wrong, as Russia is very good at basketball.
Fastest Jet in a 40 yard dash
We’re going to run it NFL combine style, no starting blocks, cleats, electronic timing.
Andrew Copp – We know he was a high level high school quarterback in Michigan. I guarantee his Friday Night Lights type coach in high school had all of the players run 40’s. So, he’d know how to do it, and is a great overall athlete.
Kyle Connor – Also American, from Michigan. Probably played football. And is super fast on skates.
Mason Appleton – He’s from Green Bay. I bet money he’s run a 40, owns a Brett Favre jersey, and a cheesehead hat.
Bonus – Slowest Jet in the 40 - Patrik Laine. My caveat is he may not be the slowest in a 100 meter run, but for the first 40 yards, he’d be last.
Home run competition
We go to Goldeyes Stadium, get a pitching machine, set it to around 80 mph, 20 pitches, and see who knocks the most out of park.
Connor Hellebuyck – He’s American, so he’s played baseball. I believe that is in the constitution. Plus, goalies have amazing hand eye coordination.
Anthony Bitetto – Also American and a big guy. Plus, his name is the closest sounding to Joe Dimaggio.
Neal Pionk – American and had his own baseball diamond at home. This guy is the number one pick in the True North slow pitch game.
Bonus – Most strikes against – Sami Niku. I have no confidence in his ability to even connect for an infield single. I’m going with 16 strikes, 4 foul balls.
Get into an Octagon, go with three five-minute rounds, using any style of fighting they choose.
Nathan Beaulieu – I know he’s lost some hockey fights. But, by round three, after everyone else is exhausted, a sweaty, bloody, Beaulieu is that guy still coming at you with a smirk. He’s a honey badger.
Blake Wheeler – He’s just competitive and tough.
Adam Lowry – Obvious choice. Best hockey fighter on the team.
Bonus – Most surprising – Jack Roslovic. I base this on nothing but gut feeling. Not saying he’s a good hockey fighter, but, he seems to me to be the most likely to secretly have been going to a dojo just waiting for my hypothetical Jets MMA tournament.