Winnipeg is a unique city. Located in the middle of Canada, it was originally destined to be a hub for goods and transportation. A plan that was never fully realized. Once a location that thrived in business and trade, as the decades went on, somehow much of it slipped away into other cities like Chicago, Toronto or Calgary.
The people are friendly, (although if you ask a local they may say different). They are hard working, blue collar types who have tremendous passion for their sports teams.
There’s also some insecurity issues in Winnipeg too. Sports fans of Winnipeg haven’t seen a Blue Bombers Grey Cup win since 1990. In a league where there’s been mainly nine football teams to compete against in 27 years.
The old WHA Jets were a dominant force. But 1979 is a long time since that last Avco Cup championship.
Then fans had to endure the loss of their beloved Jets in 1996. A bitter pill to swallow that took 16 years to digest.
Meanwhile, Winnipeg fans get a lot of their sports news fed to them via Toronto. A gruelling non stop Maple Leaf love fest Winnipeg fans have to try to filter through.
But, things are looking up. The Bombers after having suffered through some gawd awful seasons, are finally a consistent winner again, (dare I say even a contender next year?) and the Jets 2.0 are enjoying their best season so far since landing in Winnipeg in 2011.
As of this writing, the Jets sit perched atop the NHL standing, alongside the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s a view that any Jets fan will say is breathtaking.
It’s just not something Jet fans are used to.
The stellar play of goalie Connor Hellebuyck, alongside rising stars such as Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Klye Connor, Jacob Trouba, and Josh Morrissey has given a tremendous amount of hope to the franchise.
Then add in the veteran leadership mix of captain Blake Wheeler, Mattheu Perreault, Dustin Byfuglien and Matt Hendricks, and suddenly the Jets are flying at an altitude not seen in Winnipeg in decades.
To go back and find a season that is comparable, it’s a long trip in the time machine.
1985 to be exact. I’ll do the math for you, it was 32 years ago. Patrick Roy earned his first career win that season against the Jets.
The Jets entered the 84/85 season with Barry Long as their head coach. He was the interim coach the previous season after Tom Watt was fired. General Manager John Ferguson also pulled off a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, trading Moe Mantha for defenceman Randy Carlyle.
Carlyle’s leadership he brought to that young Jet team became a big difference maker.
Young captain Dale Hawerchuk was now surrounded by a team a youth and experience that took them to another level. “Ducky” would finish the season scoring 130 points in 80 games.
Players such as Paul MacLean, (101 points), Thomas Steen, (84 points), Laurie Boschman, (76 points), and Brian Mullen, (71 points), helped make the Jets a force.
The Jets would finish that season 4th overall in the NHL with 96 points. But even that was only good enough for second place in the old Smythe Division, as the Wayne Gretzky led Edmonton Oilers finished with 109 points.
That season, the Jets endured their fair share of peaks and valleys too. The Jets lost nine of eleven games, including a six game losing streak that went from Boxing Day until January 18th.
But they made up the ground by the end of the season, winning 14 of their last 19 games, including a nine game winning streak.
The Jets would go onto to defeat the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs, who had finished two points behind the Jets in the regular season.
Of course this series will forever remain in infamy for Jets fans. In game three, Jamie Macoun laid a vicious cross check on the Jets captain. Macoun was not penalized on the play, but he instantly became a household name in Winnipeg for his actions. Hawerchuk was sent to the hospital with a cracked rib and would be lost for the remainder of the playoffs.
The Jets would still go on to win the series against the Flames 3-1. It is still to this day the only series win in the NHL for a Jets team.
Waiting for them in the second round was Gretzky’s Oilers. And without Hawerchuk, the Jets became the sitting “ducks” as it was a 4-0 sweep for Edmonton.
Today’s Jets have the opportunity to make their own history.
Maybe it’s no coincidence when the Jets retired Hawerchuk’s number last month, they’ve flown to the top of the league?
Maybe. Just maybe?
Flames’ Travis Hamonic Suffers Facial Fracture During Fight
Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic will be out of action for a bit after he suffered a facial fracture during a fight with Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson on opening night, the team officially announced on Friday.
In a corresponding move, the Flames called up defenseman Rasmus Anderson from the AHL to fill the empty roster spot.
Hamonic and Gudbranson got into it only 4:22 into the first period.
Canadiens Trade Kerby Rychel to Flames
The Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames have completed a trade that will send forward Kerby Rychel to Calgary in exchange for forward Hunter Shinkaruk, according to an official team announcement from the Flames on Monday.
Rychel, 23, totalled 18 goals and 24 assists for 42 points last season in the AHL split between the Toronto Marlies and the Laval Rocket, and will now join his 4th NHL organization during his short career, having spent time with the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Flames Re-Sign Garnet Hathaway
The new contract allows both sides to avoid arbitration, which was scheduled for Monday.
Hathaway collected 13 points and 88 penalty minutes last season for the Flames, and also played in 18 contests for Calgary’s AHL affiliate.
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