Cur­rent Jets put boots to for­mer Jets ... Bryan Lit­tle breaks out on Haw­er­chuk night ... Grumpy Laine get­ting hot ... Scheifele has special con­nec­tion with for­mer coach

Winnipeg Sun - - SPORTS -

Some things just work out. Then there’s the Win­nipeg Jets move to Ari­zona, 21 years ago.

That skat­ing dis­as­ter of a fran­chise wob­bled into Win­nipeg on Tues­day, not-so-proud holder of an NHL record for the most games with­out a reg­u­la­tion vic­tory to start a sea­son.

That in­glo­ri­ous mark reached 20 af­ter a 4-1 Jets win left the Desert Dogs with an em­bar­rass­ing 2-15-3 mark.

The ’Yotes are well on their way to a sixth straight sea­son out of the play­offs, which would make it 12 of the past 15 years.

In 21 years, they’ve ad­vanced past the first round once.

The best thing that could have hap­pened to this fran­chise would have been to get out of dodge when it had the chance, in 2009 or 2010, when Mark Chip­man was ready to write a cheque and bring it back home.

As fate would have it, NHL com­mish Gary Bettman wrung more mil­lions from the tax­pay­ers of Glen­dale, Ariz., and turned Chip­man’s at­ten­tion to At­lanta, in­stead. Some things do work out. So did this: Bryan Lit­tle broke out of his goalscor­ing slump on the night Dale Haw­er­chuk went into the Jets’ Hall of Fame.

When the Thrash­ers re­lo­cated, you may re­call Lit­tle gave up his No. 10 and switched to No. 18 to hon­our Haw­er­chuk’s his­tory here.


Re­mem­ber when Pa­trik Laine was mired in a four-game point drought, lament­ing his lack of con­fi­dence and how hard hockey was for him?

Laine scored a goal in each of the next five games, go­ing into Tues­day.

“Fil­let­ing him­self in front of the world there, the hockey world, some­how gets him go­ing, some­how drives him more,” Jets coach Paul Mau­rice said pre-game.

“So when he’s not play­ing well, he’s an­gry and grumpy ... he gets a lit­tle bit snarly out there. And things start to go for him. Now he’s in that mood.”


A pre-game cer­e­mony saw Haw­er­chuk get a lit­tle glassyeyed as his No. 10 ban­ner was raised to the rafters, next to those of Anders Hed­berg,

Ulf Nils­son and Bobby Hull.

Hed­berg and Nils­son, mem­bers of the famed Hot Line that tore up the WHA in the 1970s, were next to Haw­er­chuk at cen­tre ice.

“To go up there with Ulf, Anders and Bobby, those guys were amaz­ing play­ers

... it’s pretty special,” Haw­er­chuk said ear­lier in the day.

“Ducky” ac­tu­ally re­called strug­gling to crack the Jets lineup as an 18-year-old in 1981.

“The first two weeks, I didn’t think I was go­ing to make it,” he said. “I was so ex­hausted, the game was so fast. But I got more and more com­fort­able do­ing it ev­ery day. I slept like crazy, try­ing to keep my en­ergy up.

“I didn’t want to be the first over­all pick and then get sent back to ju­nior.”

The guy adapted, was named the NHL rookie of the year and the rest — 1,409 points, 929 of them in nine sea­sons with the Jets — is his­tory.

Asked to pick out a high­light mo­ment, No. 10 has a tough time.

“Ev­ery day be­ing in the NHL, man,” he said. “I was the only guy on my street that made it. We all wanted to make it and I hap­pened to be the guy that made it.”


While elite play­ers don’t al­ways make good coaches, Haw­er­chuk has done just fine in seven sea­sons with the OHL’S Barrie Colts.

One of his high­est-pro­file for­mer play­ers was thrilled to be in at­ten­dance for the special night.

“He did so much for this city and this city did so much for him,” Jets cen­tre Mark Scheifele said.

“It’s a pretty cool thing to be part of it. I’m ex­cited for that mo­ment for him.”

Scheifele says among the things Haw­er­chuk taught him is that “sim­pler is usu­ally bet­ter.”

“You don’t go and stick­han­dle the puck and flip it up in the air seven times and that’s how you learn hockey,” Scheifele said. “It’s a sim­ple game. And it’s a team game. That’s the big­gest thing he’s taught me, is this game isn’t about the flash and dash.”

Scheifele jokes he was con­stantly in Haw­er­chuk’s of­fice in Barrie, ei­ther get­ting ad­vice or get­ting yelled at.

Haw­er­chuk does re­call hav­ing to light a fire un­der his star on one oc­ca­sion.

“I barked at him pretty good on the bench, in front of everybody, on pur­pose,” the coach said. “He took a sec­ond look at me. But he picked up his game in a hurry, I can tell you that.”


Haw­er­chuk is of­ten asked whether he wants to coach in the NHL some day, and never says yes — or no.

“Right now I’m happy where I am,” he said. “I love teach­ing the kids and see­ing guys like Mark Scheifele turn out over time.”

The com­ments from a long­time buddy and for­mer team­mate are a lit­tle more re­veal­ing.

“I think he does,” Scott Arniel said on Mon­day. “I don’t think he’s in a rush to do any­thing. He’s prob­a­bly go­ing to wait for the right time, fam­ily wise. The right time, maybe the right team.”


Win­nipeg Jets great Dale Haw­er­chuk watches a video trib­ute prior to his in­duc­tion into the Jets Hall of Fame last night.

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