Hextall on Hockey: New year will be a busy one for the Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry checks St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk during their Dec. 29 game. the Jets are heading into a busy January. (AP Photo/Dilip Vishwanat)

The Winnipeg Jets enter the final game of 2019 Tuesday in Colorado against the Avalanche.

This means the team will return to Winnipeg after the outing and land around 2 a.m. Wednesday.

That means the players won’t sleep until at least 3 a.m. — which means the coaches must ask, does the team skate the next day? Or do they let them rest and skate the morning of the game against Toronto on Thursday?

The days of making players skate every day are long gone but for the Jets there is no choice in this matter for the month of January.

Prior to the NHL’s All-Star break starting on Jan.  23, the Jets will play 11 games in 22 days. It’s a stretch that includes seven games on the road, six games against opponents who currently are in a playoff position, and two back-to-back match-ups.

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Rest will be of the utmost importance to the Jets.

Load management for players such as Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Josh Morrissey and Neal Pionk — even the goalies — will be a priority leading up to the All-Star break, which will be welcomed downtime for a team that will surely need a nap!

But the fact is, January isn’t the only heavy month the Jets will face — the pace will continue for the remainder of the regular season.

Which leads me to believe the Jets’ top minute men will see a new normal in the New Year — with a focus on rest — which is an obvious choice in order for the jets to avoid hindsight being 2020 come April.

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