Is the Honeymoon in Winnipeg Nearing its End?
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On May 28th, 2011, unbridled euphoria spilled into the streets of downtown Winnipeg and throughout the province of Manitoba following the announcement of the Jets return to the NHL. It was a moment which not only had a profound impact on Manitobans, but for the majority of Canadian hockey fans alike. The 'MakeItSeven' Campaign finally yielded a tangible result! Fast forward two years and four months to the present, at the behest of yet another new NHL campaign, where the Winnipeg Jets re-incarnation targets their first playoff appearance.
They sure came close during the lockout-shortened 13 season, finishing a mere four points out of ninth in the Eastern Conference. That was a marked improvement on their inaugural year back in the league, where they placed in 11th. Even that season's performance (2011-12) was a slight uptick from the Atlanta Thrashers last year of existence – a 12th place finish. In fact, despite a rocky ownership situation presiding inAtlanta for many years, since the franchise's 1999 expansion, they have only the lone 2006-2007 post-season appearance to hang their hats on. For those of you counting at home, that's a sole playoff berth over 13 season, or six consecutive misses and counting!
Despite annually selecting high in the draft for nearly the entirety of the franchise's history, all was forgiven by theWinnipegfaithful at the outset of the relocation. A new era was set to begin with the slate wiped completely clean.Winnipegembraced this team in a large way, despite their 'father's Jets' tied to a different team in the desert. Season Tickets were sold out in lightning speed, despite astronomical rates.
Some progress has been made, though new-age Thrashers Jets have by no means accomplished enough just yet to be penciled into a playoff spot by the majority of analysts for Spring 2014. Evander Kane was a young blossoming prospect who really spread his wings upon taking up residence north of the 49th parallel, notching career highs of 30 goals and 57 points over 74 games.
However, during the truncated 48 game 2013 season, he took a slight step backward, with a prorated 26 markers and 51 points over the projected same 74 game spread he played in during the prior full season. He also saw his plus/minus ra