NHL missing the Jets' boat

Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien fires a shot during the warmup prior to facing the Canadiens at...

Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien fires a shot during the warmup prior to facing the Canadiens at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Man., Dec. 22, 2011. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:35 PM ET

WINNIPEG - Somebody in the NHL hockey operations department obviously missed the memo.

You know, the one that said the league’s return to Winnipeg, making it seven teams in Canada, is the feel-good story of the year.

Because it appears, barring a last-minute development, the Jets will be the only team not represented at the shindig commonly known as the all-star celebrations, later this week.

And the thing’s being held in the nation’s capital, no less.

In case you missed it, defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was officially scratched, Monday, due to his ongoing knee problem.

Replacing Byfuglien is Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang, leaving Winnipeg on the outside, looking in.

This calls for an inquiry.

Even the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets, in last place, overall, have a representative, in 19-year-old Ryan Johansen, a rookie selection.

The moribund Edmonton Oilers, drifting along in 29th place, didn’t have a healthy representative until Monday, when Jordan Eberle was added, replacing the injured Mikko Koivu of Minnesota.

That could have left the Wild out of it, but the league added Minnesota forward Nick Johnson to the rookie section, replacing injured Oilers young star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Johnson is 26, so at least he’ll be able to teach the other rookies how to shave.

The league could have added someone like Eric Fehr, instead. He’s 26, and playing like a rookie.

It’s not like the rookies are actually playing, anyway. Or like the game has any credibility.

Hell, Byfuglien hasn’t even been the Jets’ best defenceman this season, but the NHL chose him over Zach Bogosian, probably so it could have him go head-to-head with Zdeno Chara in the hardest shot competition.

Why let the facts get in the way of a good show, right?

Apparently, though, the hockey ops department missed another memo, the one explaining how “day-to-day” actually means “indefinitely” when it comes to the Jets injury report.

So while the league was prepared to see Byfuglien limp into the all-star game with a minus-8 rating, the Jets don’t want him hobbling to Ottawa with a bad leg.

It’ll be just like the last 15 all-star games, then, with nary a mention of Winnipeg. Almost as if the Jets never returned at all.

Never mind that nobody on the Jets roster actually deserves to go. You telling me the hometown Senators deserve four starters? Or that Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf should be the fifth?

If fans can vote them in, then all bets are off.

I can think of a few Jets who’d fit right in. After all, there’s no hitting, right? And defensive play doesn’t matter.

They could have had an all-social-media team instead of a bunch of rookies that aren’t playing, anyway. What could be more relevant in 2012 than that?

The Jets, after all, are one of the NHL leaders in having players on Twitter. I’d put Evander Kane’s followers up against anyone’s.

A tweet-off would be just as entertaining as the skills competition. And nearly as relevant.

Come to think of it, it’s just as well the Jets won’t have anybody in Ottawa.

This team needs all the rest it can get if it wants to challenge for a playoff spot.

Give the whole lot of them some extra time off to heal the bumps and bruises and get their eyes properly trained on the end goal.

And give the rest of us one more reason to ignore the festivities.


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