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Winnipeg Jets relaunch in preseason opener @NHL

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) - Jets fans lined up early outside the arena to welcome NHL hockey back to Winnipeg.

It was just an exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the smallest arena in the NHL was packed with jersey-wearing, screaming fans of the Jets.

It was 1996 when the previous incarnation of the Jets left Winnipeg for Phoenix, where they were renamed the Coyotes.

These Jets played last season as the Atlanta Thrashers before they were bought by Winnipeg-based True North Entertainment and Sports.

"It was heartbreaking to lose them and to get them back like this is extremely exciting," said Kevin Francis, who was at the game with his son John.

"I couldn't be happier."

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