Josh on the Jets: Bettman and the deadline

NHL commissioner visits, addresses ticket-sale concerns as trade deadline looms

As the Winnipeg Jets’ season careens along and the trade deadline fast approaches, the team has been placing consistently within the top 10 of the NHL standings. Accordingly, it seems poised to embark on a lengthy playoff run. Thus, the Jets’ prospects would seem balmy in an otherwise frigid city.

Nevertheless, according to a CBC report, “Winnipeg’s season-ticket base has decreased 27 per cent in three years from approximately 13,000 to just under 9,500.”

Moreover, in an interview with the Athletic, Mark Chipman — who is the Executive Chairman of the Board of True North Sports + Entertainment and of the Winnipeg Jets — insinuated that the Jets would like to acquire a season ticket base of 13,000 once again. He also said that the current state of season ticket ownership is, “not going to work over the long haul.”

Chipman appears to be seeking the financial support of businesses primarily. However, he has even gone to the homes of former season ticket holders to encourage them to re-up personally.

Dissecting Bettman’s visit

Recently, the commissioner of the NHL Gary Bettman visited Winnipeg and fielded many questions about this potentially concerning depletion. It is worth noting that his visit had nothing to do with Chipman’s interview, however.

Currently, the Jets are drawing crowds of a little over 13,000 people per game, which is the second-worst per-game total in the NHL.

Yet Bettman expressed mystification during a press conference about “the tensions that seem to have developed.” He told local media, “this is a place — Winnipeg — where hockey matters.”

Diffusing any angst about the possibility of another relocation, Bettman then said, “I’m not sure why people are now speculating that somehow [the Jets] are not going to be here.”

“I don’t view this as a crisis,” he told reporters. “But I do believe, as with any team and any market, there needs to be collaboration between the community and the fanbase and the club, and I believe, ultimately, it will be here.”

Like Chipman, Bettman appears to be putting the onus on the city’s corporations. While not ignoring the drop off in season ticket sales, he feels that attendance will improve.

“I have confidence in the organization and, as importantly, I have confidence in this community,” he said.

“Let’s be clear about something,” he stated, in what seems to have been a categorial attempt to assuage any lingering relocation trauma, “I believe that this is a strong NHL market, and it will adjust.”

It seems that there is no reason to fret, for while the Jets may be soaring up the NHL standings, the team is firmly grounded in Winnipeg.

And if you feel like catching a game, by texting “STUDENT” to +1-888-606-5387, as a University of Manitoba student, you can
access cheaper tickets. They are usually around $50.

Trade deadline moves?

The Jets have already made one major splash: acquiring a new second-line centre in Sean Monahan.

Monahan fetched a hefty price, however, as the Jets sent their 2024 first-round draft pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for his services. Monahan will also be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

Nonetheless, the move has been worth it thus far. In his first 12 games with the Jets, Monahan has scored eight times.

Might the success of his first move prompt general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to make another one before the March 8 trade deadline?
I think it might. Although, internal addition is also a tenable option.

2019 first-round pick Ville Heinola had a breakout training camp and would have cracked the opening-day roster had it not been for an unfortunate injury.

Since recovering, Heinola has been playing for the Jets’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Manitoba Moose.

He is a dynamic, smooth-skating offensive defenceman who might be able to give the Jets a boost should they hold their cards come deadline day.

But if they play them, I think Cheveldayoff should pursue the Ottawa Senators’ defenceman Jakob Chychrun, who is currently number 27 on TSN’s Trade Bait Board.

Chychrun is a quality offensive player and a plus defender. Additionally, he can play either side. He does, however, have a 10- team no-trade clause in his contract. Although if Winnipeg is not on it and the Jets trade for him, he would be under contract through the 2024-25 season, meaning he would not be a rental.

Ostensibly, he would take Nate Schmidt’s minutes, whom Winnipeg would look to move alongside Logan Stanley. Ottawa certainly would not accept a trade for Chychrun involving either or both Stanley and Schmidt alone, meaning the Jets would likely have to dole out one of its top prospects, which is a steep price. It would be understandable, then, if this proposed trade never comes to fruition.