Under ordinary circumstances, a pre-season game between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Edmonton Oilers would be just that, a pre-season game. However, this Sunday's contest is certainly more than just a pre-season game.
Ten years ago, the Winnipeg Jets franchise made the 2000-mile journey to the Southwest and set up in Arizona as the Phoenix Coyotes. Now, a decade later, the Coyotes will return to Winnipeg for their first pre-season game of the season.
The return will certainly be an emotional one for the people of Winnipeg, who have ached for the NHL's return for a decade and it will be equally emotional for at least one member of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Drafted by the Jets in the first round (7th overall) of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, Coyotes Captain Shane Doan is the only remaining player on the team's roster that made the journey to Phoenix; and while the team may be gone, the memories are definitely not.
"The Winnipeg franchise gave me the opportunity to play in the NHL and that is something very special," said Doan. "You never forget your first team and your first games that you played. My first game was against the Dallas Stars in Winnipeg and I'll never forget that."
While Doan has no problem recalling the sights and sounds of Winnipeg or the stories he has from his 74 games in a Jets sweater, there are some players in the league today that have never grown up seeing an NHL team in Winnipeg.
"It's funny, a lot of the players coming into the league now, don't remember the Jets because it's been a few years now and to be able say that you played there is certainly something special and something I'm proud of," said Doan.
While the Coyotes have created new fans and new memories in Phoenix, the fans of Winnipeg haven't forgotten their former team and they still hope that one-day they'll have another one.
"It means a great deal to Winnipeg," said Coyotes Television Play-By-Play Announcer ad former Winnipeg Jet Broadcaster Curt Keilback. "The City has been lamenting the loss of the Jets since 1996 when they came here to Phoenix.
"It's a big event and its exciting for the fans that have a belief and a desire that they'll get an NHL team back there someday."
The game, which sold out in minutes after tickets went on-sale, will be the only NHL pre-season contest taking place at the MTS Centre this season and will, for one night, bring a city and a franchise back together again.
"I can't wait to get back there and have a chance to play there one more time," said Doan.