Yes, the return trip is complete. Departing for Phoenix after the 9596 season, the Jets made the indirect flight home with a stopover in Atlanta this off season. Congrats to Gary Bettman and the NHL for finally realizing that if a team down south can’t afford the arena’s air conditioning then maybe it’s time to move north.
No, it is not the same franchise that left in 96, but either way, the Coyotes or Thrashers, it really doesn’t matter….neither are necessarily a strong team. So while Winnipeg is rightfully excited and proud to once again have an NHL franchise, let’s not ruin things by expecting an amazing season from a mediocre team at best. And if history repeats itself then all the more reason to keep our expectations low.
Winnipeg did not have the best track record as a franchise in the past; actually it is pretty dismal, and that’s being kind. As an NHL team from 1979-1996 the jets had no division championships, no President’s trophies, never won the cup, never made the cup finals or even the conference final. But they did have a few gems over the years like Dale Hawerchuk and Teemu Selanne both of whom won Rookie of the Year wearing a jets uniform.
It is much the same news when we look at the Atlanta Thrashers short stay in the league. In the team’s entire existence from 1999-2011 Atlanta made the playoffs only once… and never won a game losing 4-0 in a series with the New York Rangers. Once again there were a few diamonds in the rough, Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk shared the spotlight as rookies together, Dany winning the Calder trophy and was later traded for superstar Marian Hossa. But today as the Jets we don’t see anyone who plays to the same standards of the previously mentioned hockey greats.
So Canada’s lucky number 7? I think not, but that doesn’t mean that the fans in Winnipeg shouldn’t cheer. Having the team back in blue and white at home is reason enough, and remember when your Jets return home from a division rivalry on the sandy beaches of Florida, they will be coming home to a packed house full of fans who will support them win or lose. And that’s the last word.