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Jets' reputation grows more tattered with every player exit

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And so the Pierre-Luc Dubois era comes to an inglorious end in Winnipeg.

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Just as the curtain came down on the Patrik Laine era before that.

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These aren’t the types of show-stoppers that draw standing ovations, though.

Oh, there may be a few claps from the audience. You could make the argument, I suppose, that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff came close to maximizing his return for Dubois, extracting two promising young forwards and a reliable veteran from the L.A. Kings, plus a second-round draft pick.

But just as the Laine deal to Columbus felt like a failure, so does the exit of the man Cheveldayoff acquired for the flashy Finn.

Dubois is a combination of power and polish that, while maybe not extremely rare, is highly coveted across the NHL. The kind of player that drives teams in the playoffs.

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He’s a centre the Jets didn’t have before he came along, a combination of Mark Scheifele-type skill and Adam Lowry-type tenacity.

And now, two days after his 25th birthday, he was gone.

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Sure, he forced the Jets hand, unwilling to stay in Winnipeg for the long haul.

You can blame the winters if you want.

But that’s not the real story here.

After all, nobody is clamouring to get to Arizona to play for the Coyotes.

Dubois, like most players, just wants to win. Sunny California is simply a bonus.

When you don’t have the weather or low taxes on your side, you’d better have the team and the culture.

In the space of five years, the Jets have gone from a team on the cusp of Cup contention to one on the brink of implosion.

One year the head coach throws up his hands and walks out, the next key players start looking for the exits.

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Today it’s Dubois, tomorrow perhaps it’ll be Connor Hellebuyck.

Both see a team that reached its peak and is looking at the down-side of the hill. No doubt they watched the Vegas Golden Knights week-long championship celebration with envy.

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Cheveldayoff has had 12 years to build something like that out of the rubble of the Atlanta Thrashers, with little to show for it.

Yeah, it’s hard, and everybody else is trying to do the same thing.

And no, Winnipeg’s isn’t a prime destination.

Construct a cohesive, character-rich team that contends, though, and you have a strong selling point.

That was Cheveldayoff’s job when he acquired Dubois.

Instead, his team won one playoff round in three seasons, causing Dubois to look elsewhere for that long-term commitment he craved — hoping for Montreal and his home province, perhaps, but settling for L.A. when the Habs couldn’t match the Kings’ offer.

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Unlike the Jets, the Kings are a team on the rise

In a touch of irony, Dubois signed a new, eight-year contract worth $68 million with Winnipeg before the trade, one of the richest deals the Jets have ever handed out. Re-signing was the only way he could get that maximum length on his new deal.

For that one, brief moment, the world was as it should have been, Cheveldayoff locking down his No. 1 centre in his prime.

Instead, the GM is left kicking that can further down the road, swapping proven for promise.

There’s always a chance this move doesn’t look horrible down that highway. Perhaps Dubois doesn’t become the linchpin of a championship team.

After all, this is the second time he’s wanted out, first from Columbus, now from Winnipeg, a red flag for some.

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Last season didn’t mark a big step forward for him, either, with similar goal and point totals from the year before.

And when the Jets faced elimination in the first round of the playoffs against Vegas, Dubois was a non-factor, along with many of his teammates.

We remind you of Rick Bowness’s words, post-game.

“Their better players were so much better than ours, it wasn’t even close,” the coach said.

Dubois had a front-row seat for the first three Vegas goals in that game. His stats line when it mattered most: 0-0-0-0, the last category being hits.

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He still managed two goals, four points, in five playoff games. But when elimination is breathing down your neck, you need someone to turn around and smack it in the mouth.

So maybe Dubois will turn out to be more potential than actual production, never reaching that dominant, power-forward level.

The Jets, though, can’t worry about that.

The teams Cheveldayoff has put together are 1-7 when facing playoff elimination. Their own reputation is becoming tattered.

With every star that wants out, it frays some more.

Check out our sports section for the latest news and analysis. Care for a wager? Head to our sports betting section for news and odds.

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