When this decade began, the Winnipeg Jets were the Atlanta Thrashers. Then, on May 31, 2011, Mark Chipman, chairman of True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., spoke the words Manitoba – heck, Canadian – hockey fans have been desperate to hear since the original jets left for Arizona in 1996. On behalf of my family, our partner David Thomson and our entire organization, I am indescribably pleased to announce the purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers. "
The NHL hockey in Winnipeg was reborn. Now in its ninth season, the Jets 2.0 have given their fans a lot of joy.
Here is a look at the three most important jet moments of the decade.
Senior writer Ryan Dixon and NHL editor Rory Boylen always give 110%, but never rely on clichés when podcasting. Instead, they use a mix of facts, fun, and a varied set of hockey voices to report on Canada's most popular game.
1. Let healing begin
The response to the official news about the return of the jets was immediate and impressive. Fans gathered at two famous locations in Winnipeg – The Forks and the intersection of Portage and Main – to celebrate. Street hockey games broke out in the city, and Mayor Sam Katz took former jet star Thomas Steen into the city center as part of a conga line. Yes, you could definitely hear some corks popping.
The first draft pick of the new era was Mark Scheifele, who wore a pullover with an NHL logo on the front of the 2011 draft. In September, the team at Base 17 of the Royal Canadian Airforce unveiled its new uniforms.
"Sharp jersey," said team captain Andrew Ladd. "It's a clean look and hopefully something that will stand the test of time."
On October 9, 2011, the Jets stormed their new home, Bell MTS Place, in a scene very worthy of the old Winnipeg Arena. Although the visiting Montreal Canadiens spoiled the party with a 5-1 win, the unrestricted joy in the building and in the city was not to be tarnished that night. If you don't get a shiver for this game at the start of Hockey Night in Canada, you may need to be hit with a Bobby Hull slapper or a Dustin Byfuglien body check to make sure you are able to feel anything at all.
2. The white stuff
Let's be real: Jets fans were so excited to have their team back that victories and losses played a subordinate role in numerous seasons. Nevertheless, playoff hockey had to get down to business again at some point.
In her fourth season after the move – and the first full season under coach Paul Maurice – Winnipeg won four of his last five competitions and used a 99-point record to secure the last playoff spot at the Western Conference. After losing Games 1 and 2 to the highest-stakes Ducks in Anaheim, the Jets returned to Manitoba on April 28, 1996, for their first home-play playoff. This was a loss to the Detroit Red Wings, which also doubled the eventual appearance of any kind through the original jets.
Since the playout tradition of the "White Out" is fully applied, the scene was exactly what you expected for Game 3 on April 20, 2015.
Fueled by the local crowd, the jets came out and when Lee Stempniak scored the first goal of the game just before the first half, the place was a blast.
However, the good mood did not last. Winnipeg lost a 5-4 overtime draw in game 3 and was dusted two nights later when the Ducks completed the first round.
3. An unprecedented run
The 1980s jets had some very talented squads, but when they were in the Smythe Division with the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, post-season success was a bit of a dream. While the World Hockey Association version of the franchise won three Avco Cups, Winnipeg's NHL submissions weren't even a final four squad until spring 2018.
GM Kevin Cheveldayoff's slow and steady approach – supported by a little luck in the lottery in 2016, which Patrik Laine landed with the second overall win – began to pay off in the 2017/18 season. When Cheveldayoff sensed the team was approaching, he shied his usual cautious approach and made a decision in the first round at the close of trading to take over the St. Louis Blues Center Paul Stastny.
After a season with 114 points, which broke the previous franchise record of 99, the Jets did a short job for Round 1 in Minnesota Wild to win their first playoff series of the new era. The next round brought a date with the Nashville Predators, the top seed in the west and the defending conference champions. In a back-and-forth series, the teams took turns winning and ended with a strange ending. Nashville suppressed the Jets 4-0 in Winnipeg in Game 6 to force a crucial competition. 1 in enemy territory.
Only first-year Vegas Golden Knights and a Stanley Cup final spot were a dream for Jets fans, especially after Winnipeg scored three goals before the eight-minute mark of Game 1 to win a home ice. The fairy dust that covered the Expansion Knights, however, must have gotten into Winnipeg's eyes as Vegas won four consecutive wins to win the series. Ryan Reaves, a Winnipeg-born American, even won the clinch game 5 competition.
"It is very difficult to find this positive feeling," said Maurice immediately after the defeat.
Yes, but that was certainly the exception to the rule for ice hockey fans in Winnipeg in the past 10 years.