Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Baby Jets Showing Bright Future For Jets Franchise

With a seventh game win in the second round over the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Ice Caps are on to their first Eastern Conference Final in St. John's.
Remembering back to the 2006-07 season when, as a Montreal Canadiens fan, I saw Carey Price almost singlehandedly help the Habs AHL affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs win the Calder Cup, I thought the future would be bright for the Habs.

I was right in one thing - Price is a bright part of the future and present, but besides that not much else has been something of note for the Habs as they traded the biggest stars that were on that team (Grabovski, D'Agostini, Lapierre, and Halak).

But if there is something to be said about how an professional sports organization builds itself, then the Winnipeg Jets are on the right track.

After moving the former Manitoba Moose franchise to Newfoundland, the winning ways have not seemed to stop.

Not only did the St. John's Ice Caps win an Atlantic Division title in their first season on the rock, but they are on their way to the franchise's third conference final and first as the Ice Caps.

The last time the franchise was there was during the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs when the former Moose got by the Houston Aeros in six games and made their only appearance in the Calder Cup Finals.

But for the Moose franchise, the Jets took what was a winning tradition - one conference championship, two division championships, and a regular season title - and transferred it into their own organization.

The Moose's success was primarily based on Canucks prospects and personnel mixed in with whatever GM Craig Heisinger could find to bolster the lineup.

But in St. John's, Heisinger is both the GM of the Ice Caps and assistant GM of the Jets, which helps him to be in a position of strength to make his baby Jets as good as they can be.

With former Moose Jason Jaffray leading the way as captain, the Ice Caps have the same core of players that left Winnipeg for St. John's last year as Moose players, namely Marco Rosa, Travis Ramsey, Kevin Clark, Tom Maxwell, and Garth Murray.

The commitment to winning and to being dedicated to developing relationships with players shows how committed the Jets are to breeding success at the AHL level.

Not only are those Ice Caps players, former Moose players, making a difference in the playoff run, but the young Jet prospects - including Eddie Pasquale, Paul Postma, and other pickups like Brock Trotter, Aaron Gagnon, and Maxime Macenauer are making a difference.

With winning in the minors breeds winning in the big leagues - and as Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff keeps preaching his philosophies on how the Jets are going to properly and slowly develop their top prospects, there is no doubt that players who are Jets draft picks will look forward to playing under head coach Keith McCambridge in St. John's.

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