By amuir29
January 09, 2014

Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel and Dustin Byfuglien His Jets in a death spiral, coach Claude Noel is trying to get Dustin Byfuglien's attention. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

It's no secret that the Winnipeg Jets are in a tailspin, playing some of their worst hockey since moving to Manitoba from Atlanta three years ago.

They've lost four straight, prompting talk of blockbuster swaps or the firing of coach Claude Noel as the means of getting the team back on track before it's too late.

But with cap issues strangling the trade market and Noel seemingly immune to accountability for the team's consistent failings, the Jets might be looking in a different direction to change their mojo:

To be fair, Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd all missed today's skate with various ailments, so there may be nothing more to it than a need for a warm body up front.

But given the success that Byfuglien enjoyed when employed on the wing by the Blackhawks, and considering how often his giveaways--55 this season, second in the league only to Erik Karlsson--wind up behind Winnipeg's beleaguered goaltenders, maybe there's more to this than simply filling a sweater up front.

"Well, we're not sure what'll happen with Buf, but if he's in there for the game then we will be the ones who determined that will be the best thing for us to get us a win and get us on track," Noel told the media after practice. "So we'll see tomorrow."

Not exactly a denial, is it?

Byfuglien, for his part, seems open to the idea.

Noel hasn't been willing to use any of the usual prods--reduced ice time, ripping him in public--to get Byfuglien's game back in order. Maybe this will get his attention ... and the attention of his teammates, who were booed off the ice after a dismal 4-2 loss to the Lightning on Tuesday.

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