So, Winnipeg Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and estranged defenceman Jacob Trouba’s agent Kurt Overhardt apparently had one of the most talked about stairwell encounters since Kevin McAllister met the wet bandits on the stairs in Home Alone.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the two chatted recently, with another NHL insider saying Chevy and Overhardt have had a chat about once a week on the status of the situation.
The status is this – Trouba, the young, unsigned Restricted Free Agent defenceman who doesn’t like to go left is 25 days away from throwing away an entire NHL season and $5 million (give or take a million) that would go with it. If not signed by an NHL team by Dec. 1, then Trouba will spend entire season on the outside looking in.
He would have other options, including hooking up with a Kontinental Hockey League team and trying out the unpredictability of the Russian league, but nothing compares to the NHL. With so much on the line, fully expect some kind of miracle deal to be reached in the next two weeks that will bring Trouba back to Winnipeg.
That’s the good news, but what else comes into play with that? Let’s take a look:
1. Who returns to the Winnipeg Jets?
A. Do the Jets get a motivated young man looking to play his very best to further this organization’s quest to become a winning team? That would be ideal, but there is a lot of reason to doubt that. If and when he returns, he comes back to a less than certain situation. What if he finds himself on the third pairing on the right behind all-star Dustin Byfuglien and lanky Tyler Myers? Or more likely he is asked to play the left side. Neither option is one that he is enthused about. Or maybe, as some have speculated all along, maybe he just doesn’t want to be in Winnipeg. None of the above looks ideal, but it barring an injury to Buff or Myers, it doesn’t seem there are many other options…well, other than him busting his butt and proving he deserves to play a top two RHD role.
B. Do the Jets get a motivated young man looking to play his very best to prove he is a top-level NHL defenceman making it easier for Chevy to deal him to another team?
At first glance, this seems far more likely than option A. From the outset this has all been about Jacob Trouba, and if and when he returns, it is hard to believe that me-first attitude will change. But if Chevy works a deal with Overhardt that includes a promise to make every attempt to make a deal for the unhappy blue-liner and Trouba knows his play will impact that possibility that might be enough.
C. Do the Jets get a sullen, resentful and petulant young defenceman who will struggle with fitting back in and accepting roles that are given to him? A malcontent who could be seen as a risk of poisoning a dressing room that really seems to be coming together and building in the right direction. Again, out of these three options, hopefully with his own intelligence and maybe, finally, some good advice from Overhardt, Trouba will understand that at the very least, option B is the best way of looking after what he wants.
Of course, there is another key element to consider – how Trouba will be treated returning to the dressing room. Sure, there has been a lot of talk from players about understanding the business side of the business, but make no mistake, there will be some hard feelings, as have already been publicly expressed by Matthieu Perreault. Be assured, Perreault isn’t the only player who will feel some resentment to how all of this has played out.
But, ultimately, Trouba’s welcome back will likely be tied to the player who returns. Professional athletes play to win, and if they see a motivated Trouba coming in and helping them win hockey games, all will likely be quickly forgiven. And Trouba had built some pretty solid friendships on the team, most notably Mark Scheifele. But if Option C Trouba returns – watch out.
Lastly, what of Kurt Overhardt? This man has made some massive miscalculations when it comes to advice he is giving his clients. And these aren’t the first two. These kind of tactics seem to be Overhardt’s modus operandi.
Yes, the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons is the Twitters personality everyone loves to hate. He’s the Donald Trump of Canadian sports, but he had one line in the Sunday issue that nails it – “If I’m Jacob Trouba’s family, I might be suggesting a new agent right about now.”