After the announcement there was a scurry of activity. June was a super busy month to be a Jets fan. Only problem was we weren’t a anything fan yet. The team didn’t have a name. First there was the Drive to 13000 and I don’t think anyone knew it was going to be this successful. Moose ticket holders got first crack at season tickets and quickly snatched up their allotment. Roughly 7000 tickets were made available to the general public. Officially it took 17 minutes to sell all the tickets but in reality it was more like 2-3. The computer system took about 17 minutes to process the transaction but they were all accounted for in less than 3.
As part of the “Lets erase Atlanta from history” plan the Winnipeg cleaned out the front office and only retained a few from the scouting department. The first order of business was to hire a GM and the Jets found their man in Kevin Cheveldayoff. After a quick coaching search the still unnamed team tapped former Moose Coach Claude Noel as its benchman.
Let be honest here. If True North could have they would have named the team something other than Jets. Mark Chipman was partial to the Moose and there was a lot of buzz about the Falcons and even the Polar Bears (yuck). Yet a group of very vocal fans and media pushed and pushed until True North who spent 170 million to bring hockey back to the manitoba Capital had no other choice then to listen to what the people wanted.
So at the draft right before the they are to make their first pick Mark Chipman casually throws out there that the team would indeed be called the Winnipeg Jets. Now I’m happy with that. I grew up a Jets fan and truly loved the old team but I didn’t like the way True North was bullied into making the decision. These guys spent millions of dollars and years of their lives working on this they at least deserved to name the team what they wanted.
After the name was finally set the Jets had another surprise in store. With the 7th pick of the draft Winnipeg selected Mark Scheifele from the Barrie Colts. Most experts had Scheifele going much later in the draft and this was able to fuel some criticism that True North didn’t know what they were doing.
As June ended the team had a coach, a GM a name but no jersey or logo. A few weeks later due to leaks on the internets the Jets had to reveal their new logo which again was initially met with some criticism. Some saw it promoting war while others felt we should have just kept the jerseys from the 90′s. The Jets also made a few player signings grabbing guys like Kyle Wellwood and Tanner Glass which did nothing to lessen the noise from the critics.
In September the jersey’s were finally revealed and looked a lot like the ones that had been leaking on the internet. Again the critics came out and said they were boring and that they would have been better off sticking with the old ones. True North was forced into the name they weren’t going to be forced into a design. Even though the experts and those still living in 1992 were critical of the designs the fans were buying the merch faster than they could make it.
Before the main camp opened the Jets were invited to a young stars tourney where the world got to see why the jets selected mark Scheifele as high as they did. The kid dazzled and many thought he had a good shot at making the main club rather than being sent back to junior.
A week later and the main camp opens. Fans pack into the practice facility to get a glimpse of their new team. A few days later the jets play a spilt squad game against the Columbus Blue jackets and the fans pack the MTS Centre to see the first Jets win in over 15 years. Scheifele continues to impress and the it looks like the young rookie will be able to crack the main squad.
On October 9th 2011 the new Winnipeg Jets play their first regular season game at the MTS Centre against the Montreal Canadiens. The Jets look over matched and fall in the home opener but that didn’t matter as Jets fans from all over the world celebrated the return of their team.
The first month or so was pretty rough as the young team struggled to find an identity. The power play was horrendous and the team took way too many penalties. Stars like Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd had trouble putting the puck in the net as young star Mark Scheifele learned the hard way that the NHL is a way faster and more physical game then he was use to.
After 9 games Scheifele was sent back to Junior and Jets fans were faced with the stark reality that this team might not be very good for a long long time. But then something funny happened. Much to the dismay of bitter Atlanta fans the team got better. They started to figure out the new system and the wins started to come.
After a monster road trip where the Jets were able to finish above .500 they returned to the MTS Centre and finally found their legs. Fueled by an amazing crowd this team started to win and not just against the dregs on the league. They were able to notch Wins against top teams like Philly, Boston and Minnesota.
December saw two games they were big for the fans as the Coyotes made their return to Winnipeg and Selanne finally got to say goodbye. Local media almost had a collective heart attack over the fact that Shane Doan might get booed. He did get booed and a standing O as the old Jets got beat by the new Jets.
There was no booing when Temmu came back as the love fest from 93 continued like it never skipped a beat. Temmu was cheered and the Jets kept winning. The critics fell silent as this team started to prove that they could compete.
Now at the end of the year the Jets are sitting in 7th place in the east with their playoff destiny firmly in their own hands. Will the new year bring a playoff birth? Who knows. All I know is that I am going to be there for every moment.
Happy New Year and Go Jets Go!
Category: Jets News