Kris King spent more than a dozen years playing professional hockey. But it was the four seasons he spent in Winnipeg that he's most fond of.
"Winnipeg was the place where I actually enjoyed my time the most, and that's both on and off the ice," said King, who was dealt from the New York Rangers to Winnipeg in December of 1992. "I think it was the people. We worked hard as a team, but the people within the community made those four years the most memorable four years for me. Coming from a small town of 900 people in Northern Ontario, Winnipeg was a small town in the NHL at the time, so it was a natural fit for me."
King was on the last Jets' team in 1995-96 before the franchise moved to Phoenix. Winnipeg's last game -- a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on April 28, 1996 -- will forever be etched in his memory.
"As tough as the ending was, that's the thing that sticks out the most," King said. "Watching Thomas (Steen) and how hard it was for him … to me, he was the Winnipeg Jets for the era that I was there. To see him sitting there and how hard it was for him to realize that this was it … I saw him this summer and he's so excited to have his team back. The fans didn't expect us to win every night, but they expected you to work hard. As a group, we picked up on that real quick. We had some quality guys and we were a good team that was getting close when he had to go to Phoenix."
NHL hockey is back in Winnipeg this season, and the Jets will be landing in Newfoundland later today. They will face the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night as the main event to the 2011 Kraft Hockeyville festivities. King is obviously very excited to have his former team back in the League after a 15-year hiatus.
"Thrilled would probably we a light way of saying it," King said Sunday after helping youth hockey players from Conception Bay South hone their skills. "I'm thrilled for the people of Manitoba and the Jets fans across Canada. They proved to us as players just how hard it was for them to lose a team. It was very, very sad to see what they went through. It was a tough time. But for them to be able to feel the excitement of actually having their team back was really exciting for everybody, especially us alumni."
The Kraft Hockeyville game was originally supposed to feature the Sens and Atlanta Thrashers, but that all changed when the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg. King believes having the Jets participate in this event will only add to what is always a special event in Canada. The game will be played at the Mile One Centre in St. John's.
"It's actually really ironic how it was Atlanta-Ottawa and then the change was made," King said. "It's great for the people here and it's great to have hockey here."