Monday, October 10, 2011

A Celebration a Decade and a Half in the Making

I decided to get an early start to watching the return of the Jets to Winnipeg.  I tuned into NHL Network and caught the end of the last game the old Jets played.  It was a playoff game against Detroit.  It brought back sad memories of my team that departed for Phoenix.

The NHL Network tuned in to CBC and the telecast of the New Jets first ever regular season game.  The Prime Minister of Canada was there.  Former NHL great and NHL Hall of Famer, Dale Hawerchuk was there.  Don Cherry was there.  It was a celebration.

The atmosphere at MTS Centre in Winnipeg was electric.  The days leading up to this monumental moment in Winnipeg's history included rock concerts.  The city of Winnipeg is a buzz.  Its citizens are again confident.  Winnipeggers have had a decade and half to be reminded that they weren't a major league city.

Yesterday, the city showed the hockey world that wasn't true.  Winnipeggers showed the hockey world what a real hockey town is.  The city knows its hockey.  They know they are fortunate to be back in the big time.  To be in the NHL in Canada is everything.  Hockey is part of our culture.

As the pre-game festivities started, my emotions started to take over.  Was this really happening?  Could it really be happening?  Then they introduced the 2011/12 WINNIPEG JETS.  YES it was happening.  Tears were flowing down my face now.  The excitement within me was incredible.

Then the puck dropped and it was time to watch hockey.  While the Jets didn't win and played a lackluster game, it didn't seem to matter.  What mattered was that NHL hockey was back in the Peg.  It was back!

The fans in Winnipeg know their hockey and they did their part to cheer the team on.  It was obvious that this version of the Jets got caught up in the excitement of the moment.  Who could blame them?  They are now part of the city's culture.  Yes, they are now part of the city.  Winnipeg and their hockey team now have a bond and will ride this thing out together.

I think most fans will agree that while a victory would have been icing on the cake, the fact that an NHL team , their team was skating on Winnipeg ice was incredible.  I think most Winnipeggers didn't believe this moment would come.

Winnipeggers  should never forget the horrible memory of the old Jets being ripped out of our hearts by a city who knew nothing about hockey.  They should use that memory to fuel their hunger and support for NHL hockey in Winnipeg.  We can never let the dark days of 1996 to ever happen again.

We can take some solice that Phoenix is a failed NHL experiment.  The NHL now owns that joke of a team. Fans don't give a rip about the Coyotes.  They're too busy watching the NBA.  They're probably watching Tiddly Winks during Coyote games.
Hopefully next year the Coyotes will be in another Canadian city, where hockey belongs.  Hopefully it will be in a city that understands the game and is passionate about the game.

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