Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Then And Now: How The Jets Have Changed

Lately, I haven't heard many ex-Thrasher fans remarking on how the Winnipeg Jets are still the old Atlanta Thrashers with new digs and a new place to play home games.

Maybe that's because that team is maturing and now they have become something completely different.

Though the playoffs will have the wait for another year in the Manitoban capital, the Jets have taken the hockey fans of Winnipeg on quite a ride this season - from a victorious home record to the disastrous play away from MTS Centre.

And no one in Manitoba or across North American sporting a Jets jersey and calling them their team would have it any other way.

Saturday night marks the end of the Jets inaugural season back in the NHL - a league that abandoned it back in 1996. And now Winnipeg is a forerunner when it comes to how the league approaches relocation and expansion.

Having been the first relocation the NHL has undergone since the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997, the Jets set the standard for what future relocation centres need to have in order to attract an NHL team - an NHL size arena, an owner with deep pockets and a willingness to be patient, and a fan base that wants hockey.

The second coming of the Jets in Winnipeg has given hopes to hockey fans in Quebec City and Hartford for a possible return - however unlikely or far into the future (if ever) it may happen.

On the surface, the Jets of October 2011 are different than the Jets of April 2012 and they will be different again come July 2012 and October 2012 as well.

But hockey is back.

And playoffs or no playoffs - we enjoyed the ride.

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