Thursday, September 2, 2021

Jets Preview: Troy Murray: Two Autographed Cards

(team and product links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)
This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: I liked doing last year's format, so I'll be doing it the same way this season as well, partly because of that but also because as a father of a toddler and a baby, I just do not have enough time to write two separate posts per day on each blog. I'll copy these on each one instead. Like last year, the entire scope of the analysis will take place here and the player will have some sort of direct connection to what's written.

Caveats: At this point, despite training camp being set to start, several players haven't found a team yet, many RFAs haven't signed with their respective teams, and a few clubs are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.

Key exits: Mason Appleton (C), Mathieu Perreault (C/LW), Tucker Poolman (D), Laurent Brossoit (G), Derek Forbort (D), Nate Thompson (C), Trevor Lewis (C)

Key Arrivals: Nate Schmidt (D), Brendan Dillon (D), Riley Nash (C)

Top prospects: Cole Perfetti (C), Ville Heinola (D), Dylan Samberg (D), David Gustafsson (C), Kristian Vesalainen (LW), Chaz Lucius (C), Mikhail Bergin (G), Dmitri Kuzmin (D), Simon Lundmark (D)

Now that they've added to their blue line via the low-key Norris-level Schmidt and dependable Dillon, the Winnipeg Jets are once again a force to be reckoned with, with the best goalie in the world in Connor Hellebuyck, tremendous leadership in Blake Wheeler, star power in Mark Scheifele, the NHL's most underrated forward in Kyle Connor, and another potential first-line centre in Pierre-Luc Dubois, who underperformed last season after coming in a couple of weeks late due to Canadian Covid-19 protocols and never really getting enough time to catch up, but who has proven in the past that he can carry the load. And Schmidt's arrival will send Neal Pionk and Josh Morrissey in ideal slots (they were fine operating as the top-two defensemen but will be elite #2s and #3s).

What makes their odds look good:
A team with Hellebuyck between the pipes makes the playoffs. A team with him and Schmidt, Pionk and Morrissey might win a round. Add two potent offensive lines and a full cast on D (including Dylan DeMelo) and you may get a Conference Final.

Question marks: Eric Comrie is now in his 8th season trying to make it as the Jets' backup goalie. Will it work this time? He's a bit too good for the AHL and no longer has anything to prove there, he just needs to step up and have a save percentage above .905 to keep his head above water. This team is strong but not especially deep. A couple of key injuries could derail a lot of good things - and one to Hellebuyck would be deadly.

Don't sleep on the Jets. In a relatively weak Central Division where only the Colorado Avalanche are a powerhouse, there is a path to the third round that's wide open, and Winnipeg's talent level ranks on par with that of the St. Louis Blues, and above the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars.

Second in the Central Division.

Troy Murray was only a member of the Jets for a year and a half before the team - which had acquired him from the Chicago Blackhawks prior to the 1991-92 season - sent him back to the Hawks in February of 1993. The Jets ended up with the rights to Warren Rychel (who never played in Winnipeg) and Steven Bancroft while the Hawks landed Bryan Marchment (one of the meanest and dirtiest players of all time) and Chris Norton. Murray was by far the best player in any transaction, captaining the Jets for the duration of his stay in Canada and winning the Selke trophy in 1985-86 as well as the Stanley Cup in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche alongside Rychel.

He was also captain of the Team Canada squad that took home the gold medal at the 1982 World Juniors.

After two stints with Chicago spanning 12 seasons and one year playing for the IHL's Chicago Wolves (posting 21 goals, 29 assists and 50 points as well as 63 penalty minutes in 81 games), Murray joined the Hawks' broadcast team upon retiring as a player, and it was announced just last week that he had been diagnosed with cancer. I wish him the best of luck in his fight for his life.

Here he is wearing the Jets' white (then-home) uniform, on card #215 from Pro Set's 1992-93 Series 1 collection:
And here he is in action pivoting in front of New York Islanders goalie (and fellow current broadcaster) Glenn Healy, with Jeff Norton in possession of the puck:
Both were signed in blue sharpie while he was in town with the Hawks, around 2015-2017.

No comments:

Post a Comment