The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets are tied together in so many ways. Brought into the world at the same time, their most famous players and teams were fast and skilled and talented. Winnipeg won the championships early, the Oilers a decade or so later. Winnipeg won three, Edmonton five. The great Oilers teams were modeled on the Winnipeg philosophy, which was their nickname: the Jets.
I used to catch games (this is miles ago) at the old barn in Winnipeg and can say the Jets and their town were/are as close as the Oilers and ours. The absolute heartache suffered by Winnipeg after the merger should have killed the entire fanbase, but the Mayans of the north would not be denied and are working on a fresh calendar.
The Jets are doing well this season, with a chance to win a spot in the playoffs first time around and they could win the division if the sun shines and the floodway holds.
It’s deadline day.
Butch Goring–from St. Boniface, Manitoba–represents the official starting point for what has now become the trade deadline. Bill Torrey’s Islanders had been strong contenders for about 5 years by the time 1980′s deadline arrived, but they could never get over the hump and win the day. Torrey had his sights on a center to take the pressure off Bryan Trottier–it was rumored to be Darryl Sittler from Toronto–but couldn’t close the deal as the deadline approached.
Torrey went with a player he remembered from a 1977 playoff series agains the Bruins–Butch Goring of the LA Kings. Torrey felt Goring was the best player for the Kings in that series and kept him in mind in case the opportunity ever arose. As it turned out, Torrey had to overpay–he gave up a quality winger and a fine defenseman–to get Goring at the 1980 deadline.This item is from March of that year:
Bill Torrey: “Every GM has the mandate to win the Cup, but you can’t just say it. You have to back it up with the steps that convince your owner, your fans, the media that, yeah, we’re headed in the right direction.”
I think the Oilers sent a very positive message to the fanbase this past week, adding Ales Hemsky to that gifted young forward group. The management team can do even more at the deadline, addressing (if possible) holes like:
- A legit defenseman who can play the hairy minutes. A real one, someone with a resume that tells us he can do the job alongside Gilbert, Smid, possibly Petry and maybe a healthy Whitney. That player may not be available at the deadline, but maybe there’s something creative available.
- A goaltending option that will either serve as a backup option to DD or perhaps more desirable someone to push Dubnyk and offer the organizaiton another possible #1 option.
- A strong, effective 2-way winger. I know size and toughness are often mentioned, but if the club can add a Dvorak type who can score goals, be effective without the puck and help the PK that should be considered a major success.