Posted on 21 April 2012.
The Winnipeg Jets made fans across Canada over the last seven months, but I’m guessing right now they aren’t making many south of the 49th.
Team USA is one-for-four in its attempts to recruit Jets players for the World Championship in Finland and Sweden next month, defenceman Dustin Byfuglien the latest to rule himself out of the Yanks’ lineup.
Any chance of Byfuglien being a late addition to the U.S. roster have been slapped away by the hard-shooting D-man, according to his agent.
“He’s been hobbling around the last few weeks of the season and needs some time to get healthy,” Ben Hankinson told the Sun.
Nursing a knee injury, Byfuglien often missed practices or game-day skates down the stretch. But he still managed to put up 53 points in 66 games, tied for second among NHL blueliners.
The fact he’s headed for a trial on impaired boating charges in July has no role in his decision to miss the Worlds, which run May 4-20.
To me, the biggest loss for Uncle Sam, from a Winnipeg perspective, is the “thanks, but no thanks” he got from winger Blake Wheeler, the Jets top scorer.
Wheeler could be dynamite on the big European ice.
Defenceman Zach Bogosian wouldn’t look bad in Stars and Stripes, either, but he wanted to rest up, too, leaving defensive forward and faceoff specialist Jim Slater as the only Winnipeg player to suit up for the U.S.
The Jets say Alex Burmistrov could still suit up for Russia, while Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane are confirmed for their home and native land.
I’m not sure players realize how special a World Championship can be.
The Jets encourage theirs to participate, and while Team USA went through the Jets to contact the ones it was interested in, the final decision is up to the player.
NHL teams can talk to players about the need to rehab or rest an injury, but a clause in the collective bargaining agreement prevents teams from holding back their players from the event.
SECOND THOUGHTS?: The Phoenix Coyotes won their division and are one victory away from knocking off Chicago for their first playoff series win.
They’re coached by one of the best in Dave Tippett and managed by a veteran in Don Maloney, two men who’ve continually got the most out of a modest lineup — the Coyotes’ payroll was just $ 3.2 million more than the Jets’ this season.
The Coyotes, and not Atlanta, could easily have been the team sold to Winnipeg’s True North Sports a year ago.
Remind me again why that would have been a bad thing?
OK, other than having Raffi Torres on your side.
TOOTING OFF: It began with a visit by the Jets on March 24, and it’s continued in the playoffs: Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo is having a hard time getting into the Predators lineup.
And it’s starting to get to him.
Tootoo popped off in an interview with the Tennessean the other day, throwing F-bombs like he throws body checks.
“Ultimately, I get whose decision it is,” Tootoo told the paper. “But I’ve been here in every playoff game in the past and right from the beginning of the series, you’re told you’re not playing “¦ what the (expletive)? For me, (expletive), you can only get bag-skated so much and mentally it’s (expletive), it’s straining, it’s frustrating.
“When you get shut down and told you’re not playing, it (expletive) burns. After doing everything right, it just (expletive). “¦ I’m (ticked) off because I’m not able to do what I love to do and that’s playing the game.”
Presumably, Preds coach Barry Trotz got the message.
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