The NHL announced yesterday that it had canceled many of its events – from the NHL Entry Draft to the Scouting Combine, and all NHL Awards. Although these events will likely be rescheduled, that announcement reinforces the fact that Canada is on lockdown from any sports gathering.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t hockey news – some of it related to the fight against the virus itself. In this post, I hope to help Winnipeg Jets fans stay more up-to-date on the news and rumors that are emerging about the team. Some of this news works to recap the team’s play during the NHL 2019-20 season.
Item One: Connor Hellebuyck Led the NHL in Shutouts
I recently read that the Jets positive season had much to do with the fact that the team had a “great goalie, but not much else.” Although that might be an overstatement – that’s there’s nothing else, clearly Connor Hellebuyck had a monster of a season.
Specifically, if the 2019-20 season never resumes, he will lead the NHL with six shutouts in 58 games. Hellebuyck has enjoyed yet another strong season and is proving his value over time for the Jets. He was the team’s workhorse in goal and ended the season with a 31-21-5 record with a goals-against-average of 2.57 and a .922 save percentage. The 26-year-old Michigan-native looks poised to have one great season after another great season for his Jets.
Item Two: Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor Tied Atop Jets’ Scoring
Both Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor scored 73 points each. Scheifele scored 29 goals and 44 assists and Connor scored 38 goals and 35 assists – both played in 71 games.
The 27-year-old Scheifele was on pace for his third 80-point season in the last four if the season would have gone for the complete 82 games. It would have been the 23-year-old Connor’s first 80-point season, although he’s scored 30 plus goals for the last three. It was Scheifele’s fifth straight season scoring 20 goals and 60 points and Connor’s second straight (he scored 31 goals and 26 assists for 57 points three seasons ago).
Item Three: Mark Letestu’s Isn’t Finished Playing Yet
Earlier this season, Mark Letestu was diagnosed with myocarditis; and, for those who didn’t know – including myself, myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart. As a result, he’s been engaged in a very different daily schedule than he was used since he was diagnosed.
Letestu noted, “You’re thankful, but I know that what I get to do for a living, the time to do that is finite. So, you try to maximize that. But there’s obviously a positive of getting to be with your family when something tough happens in your professional life. It was fun. It provided some insight into what life could be like in a year or two.” (from “Recovered from heart condition, Jets’ Mark Letestu not ready for retirement,” The Athletic, Ken Wiebe, 03/18/20)
Letestu returned from his conditioning assignment with the AHL Manitoba Moose this past week – whatever that means. Depending upon if and when the NHL season resumes, the 35-year-old forward might be ready to join the team – however, that seems unlikely. He didn’t score a point in seven games this season.
The point of this call up isn’t whether he plays this season or not, but it’s an announcement to the world that he isn’t ready to be finished playing yet.
Item Four: Jets’ Players Donate $100,000 to Winnipeg Harvest
Blake Wheeler and several other Jets players worked to raise $100,000 and then donated it to Winnipeg Harvest, a non-profit organization that feeds those in need.
The players tweeted the following message:
“We know times are difficult right now. We know there are people in the community struggling. With classrooms closed, where kids rely on school meals to be fed, and so many businesses shut, leaving people out of work — there’s a lot of uncertainty where members of our community will get their next meal from. All of us players have been talking and feel the need to help in times like these. This city has shown each of us so much support over the years and now, it’s our turn to support you. Together, we’ve come up with $100,000 to be donated to Winnipeg Harvest. Winnipeg, we’re in this together. Go Jets Go, Go Winnipeg Go!”
Thanks to Jets’ players for that donation.
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