Friday, 4 October 2013

The Jets are all set to fly high...

Today marks the return of the Winnipeg Jets for their third NHL season of Jets 3.0. Tonight they will face the LA Kings fresh off a shoot out win last night over Minnesota.

It will be a great test for the team, and should be an eye opener for fans and the teams in the Western Conference. The Jets are one of the few teams that are large enough to play with the Kings and arguably have more power wingers then any team in the NHL...

Some of Winnipeg's finest

Sunrise to my left, city lights to my right as my plane takes off; today also marks my return to my city of birth that will always be special in my heart. The real reason for my return this weekend is my high school reunion (I'll keep the number to myself) but the opportunity to attend the game tonight with friends will be special.

There is something about "this old town of ice and snow" as the Watchmen once wrote, that inspires people to greater heights. Infamous in the past for cold weather and mosquitos, climate change has brought forward a much less harsh climate and truth be told, the blood suckers are worse in Edmonton. What does come from Winnipeg are heros of commerce, art, music, and athletics, just to name a few. Its a city you can proudly say is your home, somewhere I still miss in the summer as cottage country beckons.

Tonight will mark my 4th visit to MTS to watch the Jets, and I'm already anticipating the chills. I've been very lucky to visit 14 NHL arenas, and only two experiences are in the ball park. Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals in Edmonton in 2006 and my visit to Montreal in the new Bell Centre. Pure magic! If you are a hockey fan, you need to consider going to Winnipeg to see a game at MTS. I guarantee you will never forget it.

There is something about lost love. The old poem says "better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all" and that is the best way to describe the love between Manitoban's and their Jets. It is impossible for any fan (other than some in Minnesota) to truly understand the emotion, the passion, the connection that Pegers have for this team. That is something that can only be fostered by a decade and a half absence, by losing any and all hope of a return. Other Canadian markets have had "near misses" but nothing like what happened in 1995 to Jets fans.

 I was at the second Jets game 2 years ago against Pittsburgh, which turned out to be their first NHL win as the new franchise. I've never "felt" a game like that before. It wasn't about the game, the outcome, the action. It as about religion or DNA, or some other higher spirit. Hockey is Canada, it is how you describe us, it is how you define us. MTS is Winnipeg at its finest. It's the triumph of a dream and the will power to make it happen. It's not listening to the nay-sayers and doing what you believe is right for a city, and a province. There is no person I would rather meet than Mark Chipman, and all I would probably say is "thank you". Most likely because I would have to choke out any other words that came after.

As I grow older I seem to be concerning myself less with wins and losses, and more about "the experience". I think I have Winnipeg to thank for that. Enjoy the game tonight, embrace the moment with family and/or friends...they are all special.

PS, If you know the origin of the title send me a note, you get bonus points! Also, I promise to eventually explain that 3.0 thing sooner or later...

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