The Winnipeg Jets and recently-signed forward Paul Stastny were on the same page this offseason.
For Stastny, the plan was to find a place to which he would be comfortable with friends, family and a team heading in the right direction. To the 35-year-old forward, Manitoba’s capital was just that team.
“At this time of my career, I’ve seen different places and played for different coaches, different organizations and it was the best fit for me on the ice and off the ice for my family,” Stastny said Tuesday afternoon. “We’ve always enjoyed our time there. I’ve spoken highly of Winnipeg and I would have never thought that four or five years ago … and that kind of speaks volumes for the organization and volumes from ownership to management to the coaching staff to the players that are there.”
Paul Stastny says Winnipeg was the best fit for him, from ownership to management to coaching staff and the players.
"It is a team with lots of potential and has all the right pieces"
— Carter Brooks (@CBrooksie84) July 27, 2021
Not known as a team that generally draws big-name free agents to it, the Jets did a fantastic job retaining the services of the veteran unrestricted free agent for the coming 2021-22 season. The team and player agreed on a one-year deal, featuring a $3.75 million cap hit.
“When you have a goalie like Bucky and you have the offensive firepower and some of the dynamic defensemen, you’re right there,” Stastny said of the Jets’ current makeup. “There’s no perfect situation, no perfect team, and I think it just shows that’s the NHL these days. There’s probably 22 or 23 teams that think they’re going to win the Cup every year at the start of the year, maybe more. But that’s what makes it fun, that’s what makes it competitive, that’s what makes every game so impactful. You see the drive and the hunger through the guys and I think that makes a big difference, too. You look at teams on paper and you don’t really know the identity or the character of those players but then when you’re around these guys, you realize how bad they want to win.”
Another reason Stastny chose to stick with the Jets was that of his relationship with Blake Wheeler and the fact that his wife Haley and children Draper and Riley would have some friends in Blake and Sam Wheeler and their family.
“As much as it is hockey, part of it is also ‘I want my family to be comfortable,’” Stastny added. “I think Winnipeg has done a great job of making us feel at home. I think having Blake and Sam there, with kids who are the same age as my kids, it’s a big bonus. It’s easier for her hanging out with other wives who have kids than it is to hang out with some of the younger fiancés or girlfriends who are 20, 22, 24… I want her to be happy and that’s why we have a good balance with each other.”
Now set to begin his 16th NHL season, the veteran centreman/winger is still awaiting his first Stanley Cup. And with Winnipeg, he hopes that feat will be accomplished.
“There are so many unpredictabilities,” Stastny said. “Whether it’s injuries or having an off-year, you realize that your time in this league is precious; it goes by quick, so you want to enjoy it. But at the same time, you want to leave it all on the ice and never have any regrets about not training too hard or worrying about something else, as this only happens for a very short time span in our lives.”