Christmas is the season of giving. Perhaps it's for the best, then, that the Winnipeg Jets organization give their fans a break and pretend to try to do something about the situation that their team has found themselves in this holiday season. Maybe it's time for Claude Noel to have popped his last lozenge.
There's only so much that can be done with this line-up. This line-up that has been cobbled together from waiver-wire pickups, marginal free-agents, old players who were good ages ago, and a core left over from Atlanta – all of which have been handsomely rewarded with large contracts for accomplishing somewhere between jack and squat.
Would firing Noel be using him as a fall guy for the real problems of the franchise? Absolutely, but he's the only expendable person. Owner Mark Chipman just gave the general manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff, a four-year extension as a reward for taking steps to keep the Jets squarely hovering around the average mark. Claude Noel? No such luck. He's the owners' out clause, their chance to make it seem like the organization is being pro-active in taking steps forward to compete.
They lost to the two worst teams in the NHL this month. The Buffalo Sabres beat them 4-2, and the Edmonton Oilers roundly thumped them 6-2. They're 11th in the West, and one point away from the basement of the Central Division. The honeymoon period's over in Winnipeg – fans have expectations. It's time to at least look like you're trying to live up with them. Follow the plan. They already have it set up; how much longer is the team going to wait before they finally start to try to save face?