The Winnipeg Jets honored super fan Len Kropioski before their season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes at MTS Centre on Thursday.
Kropioski, known as "Kroppy," was a World War II veteran and season-ticket holder for Winnipeg hockey teams for more than 40 years before he died Sept. 13 at age 98. Kropioski became a fixture on the arena's video monitor by proudly singing the national anthem before each home game, and the Jets played a video before the Canada national anthem to remember him Thursday.
"Nothing made Len Kropioski more proud than to stand with us each game," Jets public address announcer Jay Richardson said during the tribute. "His loyalty and passion for this country, this community and this team was an inspiration to us all."
Kropioski was a resident of Kenora, Ontario and made a 260-mile round-trip drive to Jets home games since they were founded in the World Hockey Association in 1972. He regularly attended Manitoba games in the American Hockey League after the Jets left to become the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996, then renewed his season subscription when the Jets returned to Winnipeg for the 2011-12 NHL season. He renewed his rinkside tickets for five more seasons this summer.
"Even with the two-hour drive from Kenora, there was never any doubt Kroppy would be here," Richardson said.
The Jets defeated the Hurricanes 5-4 in overtime Thursday, a result that would've pleased Kroppy.