On May 8, 2020, the All-Time Winnipeg Jets Team was named as part of TSN’s Hockey’s All-Time 7 Project where TSN is naming all-time teams for each of the seven Canadian NHL Teams. And, on each team, TSN named 21 players, a head coach, and a GM.
The Winnipeg Jets Three Teams in One
What a great team this Winnipeg Jets team was. In yesterday’s NHLTradeTalk.com’s review of the Ottawa Senators’ All-Time team, we looked at a blend of the Ottawa Senators 1.0 and the Ottawa Senators 2.0. The problem even for old guys like myself – and I’m in my mid-70s – is that I for sure wasn’t around when the first iteration of the Senators played in the 1920s. Nor was my father for that matter: it was that long ago and I didn’t know any of those players.
But the Winnipeg Jets were a different matter. The first iteration of the Winnipeg Jets was really the World Hockey Association (WHA) Winnipeg Jets before the team turned into the NHL Winnipeg Jets. The WHA version of the Jets began WHA play in 1972 and then joined the National Hockey League in 1979 when the NHL merged with the WHA.
The Jets were one of four WHA teams who made the move – the Edmonton Oilers, the New England Whalers, and the Quebec Nordiques were the others – into the NHL as expansion franchises in the 1979-80 season.
That first iteration of the NHL Jets then relocated to Phoenix to become the Coyotes in 1996. At the time, Jets player Eddie Olczyk promised fans, “Wherever this team ends up, when this team wins a Stanley Cup, it’s coming back to Winnipeg.”
In truth, the Jets haven’t won Lord Stanley’s Cup, but the team moved back to Winnipeg in 2011 when the then Atlanta Thrashers (1999–2011) became the Winnipeg Jets 2.0 (2011–to the present).
The Unique Nature of the Jets All-Time Team
The blended version of the WHA Jets and the NHL Jets 1.0 and 2.0 gives the Jets one of the most interesting mixes of all-time stars in any of these Canadian-based TSN teams. The players range from the great Bobby Hull to Dale Hawerchuk and a really strong crop of current stars – such as goalie Connor Hellebuyck and forwards Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele. For good measure, like him or not, the powerful defenseman Dustin Byfuglien also was a member of the TSN team.
TSN’s list of players includes great players from the WHA-version of the Jets – such players as Bobby Hull, Ulf Nilsson, Anders Hedberg, Morris Lukowich, goalie Joe Daley, and foundational player Lars-Erik Sjoberg.
The first version of the NHL’s Jets 1.0 includes such great players as Teemu Selanne, Dale Hawerchuk, Phil Housley, Randy Carlyle, and Fredrik Olausson. He “new” version of the Jets includes great players such as Scheifele, Hellebuyck, and Wheeler. As I wrote, the key phrase here is “great players.”
The Winnipeg Jets All-Time Team Members
Goalie Joe Daley
Manitoba native Daley played with the WHA team for seven seasons (1972-1979) and during that time was a two-time WHA all-star. He also holds WHA all-time records for regular season and playoff wins and was the winner of three Avco Cups.
Goalie Connor Hellebuyck
Good money makes the tireless Hellebuyck the likely 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winner. He’s played more games in goal over the past four seasons than any other NHL goalie (with 244 games).
Left-Defenseman Phil Housley – Right-Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien
Phil Housley scored 97 points in 1992-93, which set a record for the most ever points scored by a Jets’ defenseman during any era. During a four-year period (2013-17), Byfuglien scored the fourth-most points by a defenseman (206) and also racked up the most penalty minutes (446).
Left-Defenseman Randy Carlyle – Right-Defenseman Fredrik Olausson
These two Jets defensemen were from the first NHL Jets teams. Carlyle played the most games (564), and Olausson scored the most points (335).
Left-Defenseman Dave Babych – Right-Defenseman Teppo Numminen
Babych and Numminen were a Shutdown Pair. Babych was also a strong offensive player, but he was also a great defender. Numminen simply played well, regardless of what the numbers on the score sheet might have suggested. He was one of those players whose value could not be measured.
Left-Winger Bobby Hull – Center Ulf Nilsson – Right-Winger Anders Hedberg
This line became a hugely potent offensive machine. Each player averaged 1.5 points plus during each regular-season game he played. Hull was the all-time leader in WHA playoff goals. Hedberg was third all-time. Nilsson ranked first all-time in WHA assists.
Left-Winger Keith Tkachuk – Center Dale Hawerchuk – Right-Winger Teemu Selanne
Each of these players was chosen as a first-round draft pick by the Jets [Tkachuk was 19th in 1990, Hawerchuk was 1st in 1981, and Selanne was 10th in 1988]. They deserved that choice, and each responded by scoring at least 50 goals during a Jets season.
Left-Winger Morris Lukowich – Center Mark Scheifele – Right-Winger Blake Wheeler
Lukowich led the WHA and NHL version of the Jets in goals three years in a row (1979-81). Either Scheifele or Wheeler has led this newest version of the Jets in points each of the last five seasons. Enough said.
Left-Winger Andrew Ladd – Center Thomas Steen – Right-Winger Dave Christian
Although this is the Checking Line, it is also a combination of great offensive players as well. All three players were named captains of the Jets during their times with the team.
Foundational Player Left-Defense Lars-Erik Sjoberg
Sjoberg’s nickname was ‘The Little General’ was both a great player and a great person over his six seasons in Winnipeg. He won top defenseman honors in the WHA. But he was also a class act and higher conducted himself with the Jets with decorum.
Head Coach Paul Maurice
Maurice currently coaches the Jets and has coached the team for seven seasons. That’s the longest length for any Jets’ coach. He has a .579 winning percentage coaching 516 regular-season games.
General Manager Rudy Pilous
Rudy Pilous was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a “builder” of the Jets and was the general manager of two of the Jets Avco Cup championship teams.
The Last Cuts
TSN admits that two players from the Jets 1.0 were tough last cuts. One was is left-defenseman Dave Ellett, and the second was Paul MacLean, who ranked third in all-time goals. Other last cuts include:
Left-Defenseman: Dave Ellett
Roght-Defenseman Jacob Trouba
Left-Winger Doug Smail
Center Alexei Zhamnov
Right-Winger Paul MacLean
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