Ottawa Senators goalie Alex Auld knows firsthand just how passionate the hockey fans are in Winnipeg.
Auld, a former second-round draft pick (Florida, 1999), spent parts of four seasons playing for the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League. He reflected on his time there fondly this morning after the Sens skated in preparation for tonight's Kraft Hockeyville showdown against the Jets at the Mile One Centre.
"It's exciting," Auld said of the Jets' return to the NHL. "I played four winters there and you could see the passion in the fan base and the love they still had for the Jets. It was tough some nights. We were having a tough game, and the, 'Go Jets Go!' chant would go. It was a little discouraging for us, but it's pretty cool. I was pretty excited and I had been hopeful for a couple of years with all the talk about it."
One of Auld's best seasons came during the NHL work stoppage, when he appeared in 50 games for the Moose. Auld helped Manitoba qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs that season by going 25-18-4 with a 2.56 goals-against average. That season marked the opening of the MTS Centre, which will be the home of the Jets.
"We had a great group of guys," Auld recalled. "Nobody was worrying about who was getting called up or anything like that. We had a good playoff run that year and it was a really fun year. We all really enjoyed it. Opening the new building was pretty cool and closing the old arena. All those things are things you remember forever. Now we'll be playing in Winnipeg again in the NHL. That'll be cool."