In addition to it being game day — and an important one at that — Wednesday is also picture day for the Winnipeg Jets.
It’s an annual tradition post-trade deadline across the National Hockey League that immortalizes the latest version of your team in colour.
But what’s different about this year’s team picture over the previous 11 versions is Wednesday’s captured image of the Jets won’t have a captain sitting front and centre of the still shot.
What they will have in the front row is the three assistants in Adam Lowry, Josh Morrissey, and Mark Scheifele — the most senior player of the group — and the imagery of that is symbolic for sure.
With 18 games remaining on Winnipeg’s regular season schedule and a playoff spot certainly in question — but not bordering on dubious — it will be those three leaders that will set the pace … especially Scheifele, who, now in his 10th year, is without a doubt the bell cow of the team.
If the soon-to-be 30-year-old decides to put the club on his back down the stretch, play engaged hockey, put up points and drive play, then the Jets will be in a far better position to move toward the playoffs and possibly advance deeper than the first round in them.
You know, exactly like he did in 2017-18, in the team’s run to the Western Conference final, where he had 14 goals and 20 points in just 17 playoff games. It was without a doubt Scheifele’s finest six weeks of his NHL career.
And now as he sits with 36 goals — two shy of a career-high and knocking on the door of 40 for the first time in a few seasons — Scheifele has to know the window is now open for his club to jump through … and if the leap is going to be successful, he has to be the first one through it.
And if he heeds to the opportunity before him and guides the team in a favourable direction — as he’s certainly capable of doing and has proven before — then Wednesday’s picture of the Jets might be worth 1,000 words in the coming days.
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