The Winnipeg Jets are set to begin their second season since moving north from Atlanta; that is, if there is a season. The NHL is preparing to lock out its players come Sept. 15, when the current CBA expires.
The lockout could last weeks or months; or perhaps, like in 2005, the entire season will be lost. However, if an agreement is reached between the NHL and NHLPA in late autumn or early winter, would the Jets benefit from a shortened season?
The Jets remain in the Southeast Division after the NHLPA rejected a realignment proposal that would have changed the format of regular season and playoffs. The proposal would have seen the NHL divided into four conferences; with the Jets playing alongside the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues.
Instead they remain in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division with the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals.
For a team located north of Minnesota this means a lot of traveling.
According to ontheforecheck.com, the Jets are scheduled to travel 47,876 miles this year, significantly higher than the league average of 39,872 miles. With that in mind, it’s possible the team could benefit from a shorter, less grueling schedule.
The Jets' schedule in November features a string of 13 games, nine of which are on the road. Considering the Jets finished with a 14-22-5 record on the road last season, starting the season in December wouldn’t hurt. In fact, if the schedule were to remain the same the Jets would avoid road games against some Eastern Conference powerhouses such as the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.
A few months off would also mean less games played without defenseman Zach Bogosian. The 22-year-old underwent wrist surgery in August to repair a chronic ligament tear. This could leave the former third-overall draft pick sidelined for four to six months.
Bogosian was an important part of the Jets' blue line last season, scoring 30 points in 65 games. With the Jets lacking depth on defense, the more games Bogosian plays, the better.
The Winnipeg Jets finished tied for tenth in the Eastern conference last season, with 84 points. Regardless of the length of the upcoming campaign, the young Jets will be expected to improve on that point total. And while a shortened season could benefit them, it certainly doesn’t benefit the fans.