I said at the start of the season that this was the moment that Winnipeg got it’s soul back. Well on Saturday it got its heart back too.
Temmu Selanne made his triumphant return to Winnipeg as the Ducks visited the Jets in a meeting of two teams in the lower half of the NHL standings. On the surface this game wasn’t very interesting. Sure the Jets are on the rise but the Ducks have been a disappointment all year and have recently fired their coach.
Yet there was something special brewing inside MTSC. There was an electricity that hadn’t been evident since the emotional home opener a few month back. Sure the place has been rocking at every home game but Saturday was magical.
When the Finnish Flash left Winnipeg in 96 it was yet more salt in an already deep and festering wound. The Jets were on their way to the desert and the new ownership thinking it would help with marketing decided in their infinite wisdom that they should trade Selanne so that Keith Takchuk an american could be the face of the franchise.
Not only did these interlopers from Arizona take away the fans team they also took away its superstar. The Winnipeg fans were robbed of the chance to say goodbye to Temmu which left an unimaginable hole.
A town like Winnipeg needs heros. Its a great place to live but not an easy one. The winters are long and hard. The city never exploded economically like Calgary or Vancouver. It was a place struggling to find an identity.
In the early 90’s Temmu Selanne arrived and set the city on fire. His rookie season was something of legend as he destroyed the rookie scoring record and gave Winnipeg the hero it lacked since Hawerchuk had been traded to upstate New York.
Yet more importantly he connected with the fans. He was easy to approach and seemed to genuinly like the city and its people. This was one of the premier players in the NHL yet he was just a regular guy like someone living in St. Vital or Transcona.
Thats why his leaving stung so much. He was one of us and while we knew he would be leaving when the Jets headed to Phoenix we never got the chance to truly say good by and thank him.
Well Saturday was that chance. The wounds of 96 are almost now fully closed. The Jets are back, we beat the Coyotes in our own barn and we finally got the chance to tell Temmu how much we really loved him.
The bitterness and the anger of the past 15 years has been replaced with a sense of optimism and joy that this city hasn’t seen in decades. One chapter has closed and a new one has now begun. We are born again.
There are new names and new heros. New legends that can now flourish in the River City free of the burdens of days long gone. Will Big Buff replace Temmu? No but this isn’t about forgetting and white washing the past its about building a new future and it begins now.
The Jets are dead.
Long live the Jets.
Category: Jets News