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Despite long odds, Jets say they won’t quit

Mar 27, 2012, 7:34 PM EDT

Zach Bogosian, Ondrej Pavelec Getty Images

While a playoff berth isn’t an impossible goal from a mathematical standpoint, last night’s heartbreaking loss to the Ottawa Senators seemingly crushed the Winnipeg Jets’ postseason dreams. Even with the lure of an improved draft position now a possible (if unspoken) option, Jets coach Claude Noel told Ken Wiebe that they’re not just going to roll over and quit.

“We have targets,” Noel said. “Players have pride and they’ve competed their whole lives, so I don’t see motivation as an issue. We have to stay focused on our targets and you always have things to play for. There are always goals and you can always get better. To me, there’s no reason to step back, that’s just unacceptable and that’s not what you do when you compete and you’re in athletics.”

In what’s believed to be a good 2012 draft, it might make sense for some teams to subtly “accept” defeat, but there are reasons why the Jets are in a different spot. For one thing, they have huge crowds to please, which puts them at odds with many other clubs whose fans might not be thrilled to watch a team go through the end of the season.

“The easy way out is to say that it’s kind of demoralizing, but if you’re in a playoff spot or not, you’re playing in front of 15,000, 20,000 people and you don’t want to get embarrassed,” Bogosian said. “No matter what, you have to give your best effort. In the games we’ve lost, I don’t think it’s been a lack of effort. It’s the execution and stuff like that.”

In many ways, it makes sense for the Jets to play hard even if the playoffs are unlikely. Really, every team has a different set of circumstances and there’s always been something a little fishy about rolling over for a better prospect in the first place.

  1. bagjr387 - Mar 27, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    as a sabres fan i admit when we lost in winnipeg on 3/5/12. but an 8-1-2 record since compared to 3-6-0 put the sabres in the driver seat

    • pfpmb - Mar 28, 2012 at 12:04 AM

      We wouldn’t be talking about the Sabres fighting for 7th or 8th place if it wasn’t for the brutal cheapshots by Lucic and Tootoo. It took him a couple of months to get his bearings back. Miller has been the best goalie since the All Star break. If Miller didn’t sustain those two hits, the Bruins and Sens are fighting with the Caps for 7th and 8th in the Eastern Conference.

      • bagjr387 - Mar 28, 2012 at 10:54 PM

        i think the lucic hit was on purpose…tootoo was somewhat forced into miller. both hits could have sidelined miller for longer than he was out. a vezina like 2nd half is turning this team around and i would hate to see them get knocked out in the first round

  2. sippindasyzurp - Mar 28, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    Players don’t care about tanking for draft picks… Some teams play a little better when there is nothing but “pride” on the line

  3. lostpuppysyndrome - Mar 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Again, referring to a prior article, the Jets need to work on D. Bogo and Byfuglien need to get their heads together. The other thing that they’d hopefully address is addition of another playmaker in Scheifele next season. It’s great that they can fling 30-40 shots on goal in a game, but aside from Wheeler and maybe Little, there’s too much of a run-and-gun, take a shot from any angle mentality. It’s served them well at times but at some point you need players who use their brains a bit too, IMO.

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