Barry Trotz wasn’t the only Nashville Predator eagerly awaiting tonight’s game against the Jets.
and Jordin Tootoo
spent extensive time in Winnipeg during their younger years and have strong ties to the area.
Wilson lived in Winnipeg from age 3 to 16. He was actually born in Connecticut, but it was because his father, Carey, was playing for the New York Rangers at the time.
“He retired when I was 3 years old and we went immediately back to Winnipeg,” Wilson said. “My whole family is here. Both sides are Winnipeg natives and it’s where I grew up. I call it home because it is my home. I generally go back for the summers, but this was the first summer I wasn’t able to get back.”
His return will be a little different this time. Wilson was able to get 20 tickets for family and friends, but it would have been impossible to fill every request. He expects to have more than 50 people who are close to him attend the game, including every ex-coach he had.
To illustrate what it means for Winnipeg to get its franchise back, Wilson used a football reference.
“If the Titans lost their franchise to another city, people in Nashville would understandably be freaking out,” Wilson said. “It’s just as big in Canada. Hockey is Canada. Everyone jokes around about it, but it’s the honest truth. That’s all anybody really talks about.”
When Winnipeg finally announced the franchise was returning, Wilson was not only ecstatic but also relieved.
“For the last three years, I would get so many emails from friends saying, ‘Hey, we’re getting the Jets and it’s being announced tomorrow,’ ” Wilson said. “And then, sure enough, there was no announcement. I’m just glad it finally happened. They definitely deserve to have a team.”
A picture of Carey Wilson is featured inside MTS Centre where the Predators and Jets play tonight. It honors Carey Wilson as a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.
Tootoo's roots are strong here as well. He is from Rankin Inlet but was born in Winnipeg because it was where the closest birthing station was located. He considers Rankin Inlet his home, but has fond memories of Winnipeg.
“I played five years of my amateur hockey in Manitoba, playing in Brandon for four years and in northern Manitoba for a year,” Tootoo said. “I definitely have a lot of people from there who have been watching my career over the past 10 years. Being born in Manitoba, I think a lot of Manitobans cheer for players who were born there.”
Tootoo expects plenty of family and friends to make the trip to Winnipeg for tonight’s game. And if the last game he played in the area is any indication, he will have thousands more fans in the stands.
“I played half a game there during the lockout against the (AHL’s Manitoba) Moose,” Tootoo said. “The fans that I had there were unbelievable. It’s been a long time coming for this city.”