Wow, what a season. The Winnipeg Jets were fighting for a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs just over a week ago. It was only six months ago when Nik Antropov
scored the first goal of the Jets’ Inaugural Season against the Montreal Canadien. And that fateful day on May 31, 2011 when Winnipeg took centre stage in the world of sports was less than a year in the past.
It’s truly amazing how the hockey fans of Winnipeg bonded with the Jets over the course of the season. From the onset, the Jets were embraced by Winnipeg. Hordes of fans lined up to get the first Jets merchandise available in July, thousands turned up for the rookie camps at MTS Iceplex in September, and the ‘Go Jets Go’ chants at MTS Centre could be heard across Canada and the hockey world.
December will stand out as a month when Winnipeg bonded with its hockey team. Powerful opponents visited MTS Centre, one after another, and were wowed by the enthusiasm and impressed by the city. Particular iconic games will stand out: a 2-1 win over the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins on December 6th; a new rivalry formed when the Jets edged the Minnesota Wild 2-1 on December 13; and the return of a star when Teemu Selanne and the Anaheim Ducks visited on December 17th.
We saw career high point totals for Blake Wheeler, Kyle Wellwood, Evander Kane, Alexander Burmistrov, Tim Stapleton, Zach Bogosian and Tanner Glass. We witnessed the emergence of new stars, the characteristics of true leadership, and the perseverance and resolve of a hard-working team.
The fans of the Winnipeg Jets have expected great things from their team over the course of the year, but even more so, the management, coaches, staff and players of the Jets expect nothing but the best from themselves. There is no doubt that the sting of falling short of the goal of making the playoffs is immensely felt.
As we come to the close of this iconic 2011-2012 season, we look toward great things to come. Where Winnipeg will host hockey’s superstars, renewed rivalries, and the greatest home-ice advantage in hockey, and where MTS Centre will be the home of your Winnipeg Jets.
April 7th is not the end; this is just the beginning.