After losing their first two meetings this season, the Winnipeg Jets know they have to do a better job managing the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks.
But the team isn’t looking for any help from fans who might want to mock the opposition by wearing helmets to Thursday’s game.
It’s a reference to a Nov. 6 incident involving Jets defenceman Adam Pardy in Chicago.
After Pardy was checked through the glass late in the 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks, one fan stole his helmet while another poured beer on the Jets defenceman.
A Winnipeg radio station was promoting a “Helmet Pardy” to encourage fans to wear helmets to Thursday’s game.
But Jets chairman Mark Chipman poured cold water on that idea Wednesday, saying no helmet-wearing fans will get in.
“Adam reacted very professionally, the Blackhawks, not surprisingly, did the same thing, the NHL did the same thing, so I can’t imagine that our organization is going to take a different path,” he said in explaining his decision.
“It would seem really almost absurd for us to participate in something that sort of brought us down to the base act that caused all this.”
Another factor in his decision was the way the helmet-stealing fan has apologized for his behaviour as well.
“He has contacted our organization, he has contacted Adam Pardy. He has made a very very sincere apology. He’s made an unsolicited and unnecessary but very much appreciated donation to our foundation, which he acknowledges doesn’t excuse in any way what he did.”
Chipman said he was sure some people wouldn’t share his views but he got a lot of support on Twitter, where the hashtag #HelmetPardy trended in the top five.
“I don’t disagree with Chipman’s reasoning about #HelmetPardy - He’s a first class guy, but having #HelmetPardy . . . trending is pretty cool,” tweeted Chase Charney.
Radio station stunts aside, the Jets (10-10-3) have their work to do when Chicago (14-4-4) arrives, if they want a different result than their two lopsided losses so far this season. They lost their first meeting 5-1 on Nov. 2.
“We didn’t have our two best games against them,” said Captain Andrew Ladd.
“Puck management against a team that has that much skill is huge and I don’t think we did that well in the two games we played them, so I think everyone is looking forward to having another shot at them.”
Coach Claude Noel agrees.
“Turnovers really hurt us all the time and they capitalize on them,” he said.
“Even if you limit their chances, they’re a little bit unlike other teams, they can finish on them. If your average is 14 chances against per game, do that against them and three are in your net.”
Forward Evander Kane, who hasn’t had a goal in nine games, is also ready to give Chicago another try.
“Obviously we want to show that we’re a lot better than we were in those two games,” he said.
Kane was happier with the way he played in the Jets 5-4 shootout loss against Calgary this week, a game in which he assisted on the tying goal in the third period to force overtime.
“It was a little bit, or a lot more my game than it has been the last few,” he said.
Noel says Kane’s game is driven by his skating and when he uses that speed, he’s most successful.
“Last game I thought he was real good, I saw it a lot more so that was good, I think he’s on the right track,” said Noel.
Whether or not he scores, Noel says Kane is a conscientious player defensively.
Kane scored 30 goals in 2011-12 and 17 in the last lockout-abbreviated season. This season he has just six in 21 games.
Other teams are well aware of Kane’s speed and have done their best this season to cage the left-winger and prevent breakaways. He’s still managed to get away a team-high 91 shots.