Anyone’s guess as to how this mess plays out
It wasn’t the best weekend for Winnipeg Jets fans as we finally learned, definitively, that young, expected-to-be top-pairing defenceman Jacob Trouba isn’t coming to training camp with the Winnipeg Jets and has likely pulled on a Jets jersey for the final time…maybe.
Since then, the analysis and hyper-analysis has raged in Winnipeg and around the NHL. Previous interviews with Trouba have been dissected and interpreted, and an expected radio interview was kiboshed by his agent, Kurt Overhardt.
Overhardt then took Trouba’s spot on the radio and left a confused and disappointed fan base understandably angry. He contradicted, minimized and just came across as a bit of a jerk – which can be an asset as a player agent (see Walsh, Allan).
So what is the next move for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff? Hopefully not much. Unless some team comes knocking with a package that knocks his socks off, he shouldn’t do a thing.
It will hurt to not have Trouba in the team’s lineup, but whatever the resolution to this conundrum ends up being, have no doubt that it will have a short term pain for long term gain element when it comes to the Jets.
This team wasn’t winning the Stanley Cup this season even with Trouba, so no need for management to panic.
Chevy holds all the cards here in a showdown that Overhardt has become ridiculously familiar with. If there is a player holding out, refusing to come to training camp, or walking away from his team, over the last decade or so, they have very often been an Overhardt client – Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris, Brandon Dubinsky to name a few.
As a fan, you have to wonder about the advice this guy is doling out, but when you look at some of the deals he has negotiated for his clients and the high profile clients he represents he clearly knows how to do his job.
The logic/rationale behind the trade request is disappointing and doesn’t sit well with many Jets fans. Trouba’s camp has maintained he wants a better shot at getting top four minutes as a right-side defenceman.
It’s a fair desire, for a player who has always been that. But he was coming to camp expected to start the season as the top left-side defender alongside Dustin Byfuglien – a pretty significant opportunity.
Some are wondering if there are other factors.
Is it money? Is it unhappiness playing in the league’s smallest market? Or is it lingering unhappiness from previous player moves, such as shipping out Zach Bogosian a couple of years back – Trouba’s closest friend on the team.
There is no denying that Trouba’s play hasn’t been the same since Bogo’s departure. There’s been a spark, an energy that just seemed to disappear.
Whatever it is, and it does seem legitimate that it is the usage claim that is at the forefront, that also sticks in the craw of many fans. If Trouba believes he is a better RHD than Tyler Myers, or even Dustin Byfuglien, then why not go out and prove it? Why not go out and earn the right to move up the lineup?
There is no denying that the Jets, particularly their defence corps, is measurably weaker without Trouba. They have three legitimate top-4 defenders right now in Byfuglien, Myers and Toby Enstrom, but beyond that there are some big question marks.
How the team will fill those other three spots is an interesting and maybe even frightening prospect for Jets fans.
We can hope that this plays out similarly to how it has for other Overhardt clients. They have usually resolved relatively quickly. Hopefully that will be the case for the Jets. Urgency to get something done will grow before the Dec. 1 deadline.
If Trouba hasn’t signed by then, he can’t play hockey at all this season, and that would be as damaging to him as to the Jets organization.
In a perfect world, one of two things happen in short order:
— Somehow the team and Trouba bridge the troubled waters they face and Trouba shows up for some of training camp, or very close to the start of the season.
— Or, another team steps up and makes an offer that the Jets can’t refuse.
It’s anyone’s guess exactly how this plays out, but despite the gloomy skies currently, it isn’t completely implausible to see Trouba back in his familiar #8, still as a Winnipeg Jet.