Darren Helm is excited for the chance to play in front of his hometown family and friends next season in Winnipeg.
As a young boy growing up in Winnipeg, Darren Helm fondly remembers the ‘White Outs’ and the chants of “Go Jets, Go!” inside Winnipeg Arena on Maroons Road.
He was just nine-years-old when the Jets last played there, then moved south to Phoenix after the Red Wings eliminated them in the first round of the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Jets moved from Atlanta this season, and Saturday night the Winnipeg Jets return to Joe Louis Arena for its first regular-season game in Detroit since April 10, 1996.
And of course, Helm, who used to attend Jets’ home games with his youth teams, and sold 50/50 raffle tickets on the arena concourse with teammates and parents, is excited for the chance to soon play before family and friends back home.
With realignment set to begin next season, the Jets and Wings will be in the same eight-team conference, meaning that they will face each other at least five times each season with 2-3 games being in Manitoba.
“It'll be nice. When they come here it’s no big deal, but going there is going to be nice,” Helm said. “I can play in front of my family instead of having them come all the way here to watch a game. It's going to be nice to have them leave the house half and hour before the game, come down; get some time off, go home and get some home-cooked meals.”
The excitement for the Jets is overwhelming, and why not? Heading into Saturday’s game, Winnipeg has a 13-11-4 record and one-point out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“Most of the team out there I've talked to are pretty happy about it,” Helm said. “My friends and family pay a lot more attention to the Wings, I don't think they care as much. But there's a lot of people I grew-up with are real excited, pretty pumped about getting chance to cheer for a hometown team.”