Dear Winnipeg Jet fans:
I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, just some of you. You know who you are. The Phoenix Coyotes are not the Winnipeg Jets. They never have been.
Yes, I know the Jets left our fair city and headed to the desert 16 years ago, but they ceased to be the Winnipeg Jets in July of 1996 when title of the team was transferred to the new owners. They had their own management team put in place. Yes, the players made the move (or at least some of them) but they were wearing different jerseys and played in a different country. Teemu was already gone and Alexi Zhamnov never made the trip. It didn’t take long for most of the players who wore the Jets jersey to move on to other organizations.
I’ve always known that people were out there who refused to let go, and you’d think the fact that we have a team named the Jets back in town would put that to rest, but apparently that’s not enough for those of you still living in the past.
An article in the Winnipeg Sun (http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/05/11/coyotes-fan-gets-no-respect) highlighted how some are unable or unwilling to let go of the very flimsy connection there is between this city and the Phoenix Coyotes.
I understand the feelings for the team through the 70s, 80s and 90s and I know how it felt when the team left. I was there and it wasn’t pleasant. I followed the team from the very beginning with Ben Hatskin and Bobby Hull and the Jets were a big part of my life growing up. I contributed in my own way during the attempt to save them (including financially, for what it was worth) however, after they left I realized it was over and there was nothing anyone was going to do about it. I continued to follow the league but just didn’t have a favourite team anymore.
I find it confounding to see that some continue to have strong feelings, both negative and positive, for a team that really has nothing to do with Winnipeg. If someone wants to cheer for the Coyotes because they like the team, cool. On the other hand, I find it hard to contemplate cheering for them just because of once upon a time. Conversely, if you’re harbouring enough resentment to this day that you’re burning team jerseys, then I suggest you might need to grow up a little bit.
If there was anyone to be mad at, even in 1996, it was the original Jets ownership and the fans themselves. The Jets owners either didn’t have the means, the smarts or the willingness to finalize any kind of a deal to build an arena.
The fans need to be accountable as well because, despite how the legend reads, they (we) didn’t support the team adequately. Attendance averaged only 13,500 through its’ 17 year history in the NHL. It might not have made enough of a difference if there’d been another 1,000 or 1,500 in the building every night, but it couldn’t have hurt.
Anyway, here in 2012 let’s just try to remember that the real Winnipeg Jets are True North’s club and no one else.