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article imageOp-Ed: The 5 dumbest moves made by the old Winnipeg Jets

By Ben Morris     Oct 12, 2014 in Sports
Winnipeg - The original Winnipeg Jets had very little success. The glory days of the WHA were replaced by years of futility. The Jets had some success in the mid 80s,with Dale Hawerchuk but bad personnel decisions played a part in the move to Phoenix in 1996.
Trading Kris Draper for $1
In 1989, Kris Draper was drafted in the third round by the Winnipeg Jets, but very few remember him dawning the red, blue, and white. He played 20 games over three seasons for the Jets, and clearly was not in their plans. The deal that sent him to the Detroit Red Wings is one of the most laughable transactions in league history. On June 30, 1993 Kris Draper was traded to Detroit for a buck. In Detroit, Draper won four Stanley Cups, a Selke trophy and formed one of the best third lines in hockey history with Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty.
Drafting in the 90s
In 1992 NHL teams had 11 rounds to select the best junior players in the world. Then Jets general manager Mike Smith decided to use the majority of his picks on Russians, and only one, 9th-round pick Nikolai Khabibulin, made a lasting impression on the team. With their 17th pick Winnipeg selected defenseman Sergei Bautin. After a solid rookie season where he netted 23 points in 71 games, Bautin fell of the cliff and was eventually traded to Detroit, lasting just four years in North America. Players passed by the Jets were Mike Peca, Jere Lehtinen, Martin Straka, and Anson Carter.
In 1994 without a first rounder they used their second round pick on Deron Quint when Patrik Elias was still on the board. In 1993 they drafted Mats Lindgren instead of Jason Allison, Saku Koivu or Todd Bertuzzi. In later rounds they missed out on Miroslav Satan, Pavol Demitra, and Andrew Brunette. If they drafted properly in the 1990s maybe they would have never left.
Trading Phil Housley
When Dale Hawerchuk requested a trade out of Winnipeg, the Jets could have blown it, but they didn't. In 1990 they traded Ducky to Buffalo for Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker, Phil Housley, and a first round pick they used to select Keith Tkachuk. When Teemu Selanne made his debut in 1992, Housley assisted on 21 of Teemu's unbreakable record of 76 goals. During his three years in Winnipeg, Housley had 64 goals and 259 points. In September of 1993 he was traded to St. Louis for Nelson Emerson and Stephane Quintal. Selanne lost his outlet pass, and Winnipeg never recovered.
Missing out on King Patrick
Trading draft picks is a risk many teams make in order to add current depth to the roster, sometimes those risks burn you in the end. On November 4th 1983, the Jets thought the third round pick they sent to Montreal for Robert Picard was a good deal. What they got was 160 games, and 64 points in exchange for one of, if not the greatest goalie in the history of the NHL. With the pick acquired from Winnipeg, Montreal selected Patrick Roy. Three Vezina's, three Conn Smythe's and four Stanley Cups were traded for 64 points. Montreal won two Stanley Cups with Roy thanks to former Canadien tough guy John Ferguson trading the pick away. For Jets fans, imagining Dale Hawerchuk and Patrick Roy facing the Oilers in the mid 80s is a nightmare. Surely Roy would have given Winnipeg a better chance in dethroning the Oilers, who had another star Winnipeg passed up.
The Jets could have had The Great One
Imagine the Winnipeg Jets with Patrick Roy and Wayne Gretzky. The two best players at their position during their prime. The team would be unstoppable, and the city would of hosted numerous Stanley Cup parades on Portage and Main. The biggest blunder in possibly all of sports is when the Indianapolis Racers offered Gretzky to the Jets and they said no. Murray Craig of the Edmonton Sun noted the failure in a story about the history of the WHA. Then Jets owner Michel Gobuty had an old friend named Nelson Skalbania who was then the owner of the Racers. In a proposed game of backgammon, Skalbania asked for 1/3 ownership of the Jets in exchange for Gretzky. Gobuty shut down the deal thinking the price was too much. Gobuty then asked his scouts what they thought of Gretzky, and they responded by saying he was "too scrawny." Gretzky become what many considered the greatest hockey player of all time, shattering records along the way. Instead of going to Edmonton, Gretzky could have turned the River City into the City of Champions.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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