Meech made the club's roster out of training camp as a spare defenseman who's also capable of filling in as a forward. The Winnipeg native signed with the Jets this summer after six seasons in the Detroit Red Wings organization.
Meech does not expect to dress for the Jets in Sunday's season-opening game against the Montreal Canadiens. But he's the only member of the Winnipeg roster who was present for the city's last taste of NHL hockey in April 1996.
Just 12 years old when the original Winnipeg Jets bowed out to the Red Wings on April 28, 1996, Meech has since spent four seasons as a standout defenseman in the Western Hockey League, made his NHL debut with the Red Wings and scored his first goal in the League.
On Saturday morning, Meech recalled taking part in the city's famous white-outs for Jets games at the old Winnipeg Arena. A Dave Ellett poster adorned the wall of his bedroom -- and, like a lot of kids in Manitoba during the 1980s and 1990s, Meech lived and died with the fortunes of the local NHL club.
"I'm a [Jets] fan. I've been a fan for the past 15 years," he said.
Unlike a lot of Winnipeggers, the easy-going Meech did not harbor any dislike of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, two powerhouse divisional rivals that tormented the Jets and their fans during the 1980s.
"I mostly just loved the Jets," he said.
Meech plans to bring his family's Jets loyalties full circle. Meech's father, brother and step-brother all took in that April 1996 game, and all three will be in the MTS Centre for Sunday's game.
WINNIPEG -- Just a little more than 24 hours before their NHL season-opener, the Winnipeg Jets conducted their final tune-up at the MTS Centre on Saturday.
After a 5,643-day wait, on Sunday afternoon the Jets will bring the NHL back to Winnipeg for the first regular-season contest in the city since 1996. Winnipeg will host the Montreal Canadiens in a contest that will be broadcast across Canada on CBC and RDS. The NHL Network will present the 5 p.m. ET to viewers in the U.S.
The Jets skated the following forward lines and defensive pairings on Saturday:
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Mark Scheifele-Kyle Wellwood
Brett MacLean-Alexander Burmistrov-Nikolai Antropov
Tanner Glass-Jim Slater-Chris Thorburn
Johnny Oduya-Dustin Byfuglien
For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.