TEPID TAKE: Wheeler’s Record Reminds Winnipeg Fans They Were Once Thrashers

Photo via Winnipeg Free Press

It took seven years, but finally a player who actually played for the Winnipeg Jets now hold the franchise record for points, as Blake Wheeler surpassed Ilya Kovalchuk’s record of 615 points. Wheeler took 81 more games to do it, but he did have some carryover from when he played for the Atlanta Thrashers before they moved.

Now, more than ever, we need Kovalchuk on the Jets to battle it out with Wheeler for points. At least Kovalchuk still leads the all-time goals for the team by 111 goals over Bryan Little, as well as most goals in a season with 52– twice.

The interesting thing is how much the Jets are celebrating it now, even though the Thrashers history is not really promoted; mostly due to the Atlanta Spirit LLC. still holding the rights to the name and all the iconography with it. Plus, I don’t think the Thrashers name or history– outside of the rookies they were able to produce– is much to crow about. The Devils don’t tout the Rockies or Scouts all that much and there’s no reason they should have either.

But the Jets Centric Podcast had an interesting thread they put up on Sunday (FOUND RIGHT HERE) that’s really telling of where people in Winnipeg really stand when it comes to the Atlanta history. And if memory serves, I don’t think there was a big countdown for when Wheeler was to break Kovalchuk’s mark– but I’m sure I’m wrong in that.

With the lack of ties to Atlanta in Winnipeg, it’s easy to forget where they came from. When you go up to Winnipeg, there’s not much of a trace of the Thrashers history in the MTS Centre that I’ve seen at all. You’d think they’d want to be happy a team in the south fell or else they’d still be lobbying for an expansion team when other US markets are getting it.

Jets fans started their erasing of the Thrashers at the 2011 Draft when they were yelling down at people wearing Thrashers jersey, whether ironically or not, and just being jackasses to anyone and everyone. I get the hype behind getting a team back, but to do it in the face of people who just lost a team– not cool. They sure forget about how they felt when the actual Jets moved to Phoenix real quick when it comes to that.

In any case, the Jets are now seven wins away from tying the Thrashers win mark and I hope Bob Hartley and Curt Fraser are there to help usher the passing of the win torch to Paul Maurice.

Kovalchuk’s NHL Return Finally Halted

For Ilya Kovalchuk, his return to the NHL from the KHL was less like Jaromir Jagr and more like Nikolai Zherdev. This is due to the report out that the LA Kings will bench Kovalchuk indefinitely, as the 36-year-old winger is working on yet another underwhelming season after returning from the KHL.

Shockingly enough, the Kings sit last in the League in points with the fewest wins.

I think there were a lot of people who were treading lightly when it came to Kovalchuk’s intentions of coming back to the NHL after five-and-a-half season in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg. However, his output in the KHL with 138 goals and 327 points in 298 games in the KHL made people think that he could come back to the NHL guns ablazing– especially after having two 30-goal seasons prior to signing the three-year deal with the Kings.

Shockingly enough, the oldest team in the league couldn’t get the success that Kovalchuk had in Russia to translate to their roster in a year…and now into year two, the same old stuff. Hell, after Kovalchuk got snippy when his lack of production of himself and the team made him a healthy scratch late last year.

God only know what he’ll say after this one.

The Kings, in and of themselves, are a mess. They only bright light may be seeing Drew Doughty body people and his little petty feud with the Tkachuks– mainly Matthew in Calgary. All around, they are a mess– 28th in goals-per-game, worst in goals-allowed, 29th on the power play, 30th on the PK; but at least they have the most shots on goal in the league…so that’s something. That said, they’ll make any back-up look like Martin Brodeur on any given night.

The Kovalchuk signing was an ill-advised one, especially since Kovalchuk had never played in the Western Conference, which many would agree is a much different animal than the East in terms of style of play and travel. But when a shiny toy with potential becomes available, you can’t blame them for trying. You can blame them for the three-year contract with a no-movement clause, which is also a 35+ contract…but we shouldn’t point the finger at anyone directly whatsoever, right??