Winnipeg Jets: 2013 season preview

Better goaltending and better behaviour from some of its high-profile players are among the items on Winnipeg's wish list as the Jets look to make a playoff push in their second season back in Manitoba.

Travel, off-ice issues remain hurdles in 2nd year back in Manitoba

Young forward Evander Kane, left, has raised eyebrows with both his skilled play and his questionable behaviour away from the rink. (Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

Key Arrivals: F Olli Jokinen, F Alex Ponikarovsky, G Al Montoya, G Mark Dekanich

Key Departures: F Tanner Glass, G Chris Mason

Key Decisions: Signed G Ondrej Pavelec and D Tobias Enstrom to 5-year extensions, signed F Evander Kane to 6-year extension.

2011-12 record: 37-35-10, finished 11th in Eastern Conference

Last year's story

NHL hockey returned to Manitoba for the first time since 1995-96 as the Atlanta Thrashers picked up and left Georgia rather swiftly. The Jets waited until the fourth game of the season to net their first win for their starved (and very loud) fans, and a terrific December inspired playoff hopes before an early 2012 swoon doomed their chances.

Despite a lineup that lacked star wattage, the Jets finished 12th in goal scoring due to a balanced attack in which nine players had at least 30 points. Claude Noel proved himself an entertaining coach, while Blake Wheeler blossomed in a meatier role than in Boston, with four separate multi-game point streaks.

This year's outlook

Hockey observers will be looking to see whether the Jets can improve enough to claim a playoff spot, but also whether the young group matures.

When you're talking about sports, where very young men get paid exceedingly well, there's bound to be some missteps outside the arena of play. But it must be said that the Jets players have been really, really bad at getting caught. Dustin Byfuglien and Ondrej Pavelec have been arrested in alcohol-related incidents, while Evander Kane's photo tribute to Floyd "Money" Mayweather went over like a lead zeppelin. All three are under contract for several years.

Pavelec is particularly on the spot, as the Jets were fourth worst in goals-against average in 2011-12 despite being middle of the pack in shots allowed. The additions of Olli JokinenAlex Ponikarovsky and possibly youngster Mark Scheifele should bolster the attack, but do they have the blue-line depth in a compressed schedule that will once again see them log long flights to Florida and Carolina for divisional games?


Chris Iorfida

Senior Writer

Chris Iorfida, based in Toronto, has been with CBC since 2002 and written on subjects as diverse as politics, business, health, sports, arts and entertainment, science and technology.