In case you missed it, Claude Noel delivered the interview of the year. No, not to the Winnipeg Free Press, or to the Winnipeg Sun, or to the Globe and Mail (though that’s where it wound up). No, the Winnipeg Jets coach delivered it to one season ticket holder by the name of Chuck Duboff, and the Globe and Mail deemed it publication worthy. This hard-hitting interview that if it went down was intended as a conversation unleashed such gems as…
* “The Jets “played [goalie] Ondrej Pavelec about ten games too many; he was worn out by the end of the year.” [Pavelec played in 68 games].
* Noel asked Duboff if he knew “how to motivate [forward Nik] Antropov so that he plays with passion more than just a few games.” [Antropov finished with 15 goals and 20 assists].
* The coaches “had their exit meetings with all the players Tuesday and Wednesday…he told me that he really gave it to [forward Alexander] Burmistrov and that he really has to pick his game up next season.” [Burmistrov had 13 goals and 15 assists].
* “Burmistrov should have stayed in the OHL for a couple of seasons.” [This was his second NHL season].
* “The GST line [Tanner Glass, Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn] should be a fourth line, not third.”
* Noel said “We don’t have enough top line talent to match up against the top teams.”
* Noel “felt overwhelmed the last time playing Pittsburgh…didn’t know how to match up against all of the Penguins talent.”
* Defenceman “Paul Postma, down in St. John’s, is ready for next year.”
* Forward “Jason Jaffray [also with the St. John's Ice Caps] is too slow for the NHL.”
* Noel “can’t believe what a big fan [True North co-owner, and Toronto billionaire,] David Thomson is [he also controls the Globe and Mail].”
* Noel “spent the first two months trying to get the players to break bad habits and practice at a higher level…he said too many players were floating during the first part of the season.”
* Noel said “it’s going to take a while to change the ‘losing culture’ from the Thrashers…he said the Moose had a winning culture and that has been passed on to St. John’s” [Noel coached the AHL's Moose in Winnipeg for one season before joining the Jets last summer. The Moose moved to St. John's.]
* Noel said he “loved [foward] Spencer Mahachek’s energy.” [Machacek spent most of the season in St. John's but played 13 games with the Jets, scoring twice and getting seven assists].
* Noel also ‘thinks the fans in Winnipeg are amazing and that the players were overwhelmed by it.”
Wowzers. This is some strong stuff… if it weren’t things that every fan of the Jets/former fan of the Thrashers had thought at some point this season. Burmistrov should have stayed in the OHL — fans of the Thrashers have been saying that since last year. Paul Postma, NHL ready? No way. Mahachek busts his butt? A lack of top line talent? Pavs played too much? Winnipeg fans are great but the attention threw the players for a loop? Bad habits exist from Atlanta? All of this isn’t news, but none of this (except maybe the Mahachek and Postma stuff) should have come from the coach’s mouth.
The thing is, it’s all fan speak and all fan concerns. That makes me personally wonder how much of this conversation happened. It wasn’t an “on the record” interview by a journalist or a blogger; it was a guy who went out to eat who ran into Noel. This is journalism? I understand Winnipeg is a hockey market and would sieze on any speck of information about the Jets, but you have to have some sort of journalistic standards. Publishing hearsay is National Enquirer level journalism. Do they wind up being right sometimes? Of course. Does that mean that they have high and respectable journalistic standards? No.
The Globe and Mail is a top-notch newspaper, and the fact that they published this is questionable. Journalists can never get rabble roused over blogger practices when they publish rumors and unsubstantiated conversation as a story. Frankly, I agree with the Jets for refusing to comment on something like this — the paper should have refused to run it.