Just like everyone else – you probably thought I was talking about Gang Green (J-E-T-S!) and Coach Rex Ryan. NOT!!! This Sunday, after an absence of 15 years – the Winnipeg Jets will return to life. Circa 1996 – the Jets packed their bags and moved to Phoenix (to become the Coyotes) and said their final goodbyes to their beloved fans. During its final game, many former Jets returned to throw a funeral for itself. There wasn’t a dry eye in the entire stadium. During this absence away from professional hockey, its metropolitan area matured into a minor league sports-town, but never took its eye off the prize. Fast forward to 2011 – the Atlanta Thrashers relocate to Winnipeg to create a second incarnation of the Jets. For so many true Jets fans – dreams do come true.
Now, there are definitely challenges that face Winnipeg – which is the smallest market and arena in the NHL. The MTS Centre’s stadium capacity only holds 15,004 available seats. When season tickets went on sale – it took a matter of seventeen minutes to sellout season tickets (AVG price $90) for three plus years. The Jets’ renaissance officially began with its ecstatic hockey fans.
There will be competitive challenges, but budding stars lead by Evander Kane, Brett MacLean and Dustin Byfuglien will definitely enjoy a hero’s welcome this season and beyond. The passion is there and city of Winnipeg wants a winner.
The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NHL Gary Bettman are scheduled to be in attendance to watch the Jets play their first regular season game against the Montreal Canadiens at the MTS Centre.
Instead of dwelling in the past – Winnipeg can look forward now – a new team and future – the J-E-T-S have returned!