Sometimes a player has a reputation and it stays with him for his carrer. Sometimes its good, sometimes it not. Sometimes it warranted and others it manufactured by a media that is trying to create content. Take Kyle Wellwood for example. He has a rep as being an out of shape trouble maker who can be a cancer in the dressing room.
A lot of this comes from a picture of Wellwood when he was with the Leafs where he looked a little round in the middle. The Toronto fans and media jumped all over him and he became the new whipping boy in the Centre of the Universe. They called him fat, pudgy, lazy and pretty much forced him out of town.
When he got to Vancouver he had this stigma of being a out of shape player and this stigma wasn’t helped by him failing his inital physical (eevn though he passed it a few days later and it was probably due to injury anyways). Vancouver would release and resign Wellwood a couple times and this helped continue the rumor that he was a problem in the dressing room even though the reasons were roster based. Wellwood then went to the Sharks and made a comment about the Canucks that was taken out of context that helped cement his rep as a cancer.
Then this summer Wellwood is a free agent and the Jets jump all over it and sign him to a 2 way $700,000 contract. It seemed like a nice low risk move at the time since Wellwood came with all this baggage. He might be able to be a fourth liner with the team or worst case scenerio St. John’s gets a good player to help them out. But Something funny happened, Wellwood started to excel and became a fixture in the Jets top two lines.
He was in shape and started to produce. He cut down on his penalty minutes and started to look like a guy that could crack any NHL roster not a player that could be sent to the minors on a whim. The Jets pulled probably the best and most underrated move of all free agency.
So how did the Jets get a player that is worth so much more for a song? The easy answer is the Manitoba Moose. When True North owned the Moose they were Vancouver’s AHL team. The Moose had access to all the data and scouting reports on all the players. Zinger knew what Vancouver had and when Wellwood became available he pounced.
He sold Wellwood on the concept of a fresh start and a clean slate. All past transgressions would be forgiven and Wellwood would be given the chance to thrive and thrive he has. Already this season Wellwood leads the team in points and has been the Jets most consistant player. Without the cloud of his past over his head Wellwood has proven that he is a solid NHL player and that True North really knows something about hockey and player development.
Wellwood was the steal of this summer’s free agency and you can rest assured a lot of teams are questioning their GM’s asking why didn’t we get this guy. A lot of those answers will be that Wellwood has a reputation and was too much of a risk.
Good thing we have management who can see past a rep that probably wasn’t deserved and see that underneath with the right guidance is player that can be a diamond in the rough.
Category: Jets News