It is the hardest time of the year for hockey fans. The draft has passed, all major free agency signings have come and gone, development camp is long over, and now the wait for training camp begins. Fans need to find something to talk about at this time so we look ahead. Who’s going to make our team’s roster, which new player is the breakout star, does my team have a chance to make the playoffs? These questions keep fans going throughout the dog days of summer. One of fan’s favourite things to look ahead at is the schedule. The schedule release is always an exciting day, fans can look to which games they most look forward to, when their favourite players come to town and when they can take road trips to follow their teams. A couple weeks ago the Winnipeg Jets released their schedule and fans have had time to digest it. Today we are going to look at five games that are must see for Jets fans. Some are due to past games, rivals, and even just a specific player or two. Lets take a look.
5. Jets at Wild, Tuesday, November 10th
The Jets’ trip to Minnesota has been a huge event for Jets fans since Winnipeg’s first year back in the NHL. Winnipeger’s flock south for the seven hour, 750 kilometre road trip and attempt to take over the Xcel Energy Center. The Jets fans numbers end up in the thousands and it is an all night battle between each team’s fans. What has especially helped these yearly trips is the quality of hockey. Two of the three match-ups last season went to overtime and overall five of the six games played in Minnesota by these teams have been decided by one goal, four of those games took extra time. The games have been amazing and due to that, as well as the five meetings a year, it has become a huge rivalry. The teams hate each other and the fans aren’t far off. This is a match up that is exciting every year and will be one of the best games of the upcoming season.
— Jacob Stoller (@JLStoller) April 7, 2015
4. Jets @ Bruins, Thursday, October 8th
The end of a long summer will finally come to a head October 8th when Winnipeg gets on the ice for the first time in the regular season. This will begin a season full of change and hope for Jets fans. Their roster will be very different from the one they iced April 22nd in their last game last year, but fans expectations are way higher. The NHL schedule starts October 7th, but for Jets fans, this will be the start of the season that fans look forward to for months, Winnipeg takes the ice October 8th.
3. Flames @ Jets, Friday, October 16th
Just over a week after number four on our list, the Jets will finally take their first skate on home ice. It will be their fifth game of the season but it will give the home crowd their first chance to see this team up close and personal. The crowd will be crazy, as every other home opener has taught us. Fans will hope for a better result however, the Jets are 1-3 in their four home openers being outscored 11-3 in those losses. There couldn’t be a more perfect opponent however, the Flames and Jets had very similar seasons last year, both over achieved, both expect to take the next step this year. The Jets and Flames were each able to capture the attention of the country and both made the playoffs. This will be the start of the journey to do it again.
2. Ducks @ Jets, Sunday, March 20th
The last time Winnipeg fans saw the Anaheim Ducks was in a hand shake line after the Ducks knocked Winnipeg out of the playoffs last April. It was a disappointing end to what was a great season for Winnipeg. This will be the second time these teams have met since their playoff series last season, but this one will come at home, in Winnipeg, where the crowd will be going crazy. Due to that series, the rivalry has taken off, from “Katy Perry” to “Kesler Sucks” chants, Jets fans will be going at the Ducks just as hard as they did in the playoffs last season. You can’t go back in time, but this game will be extra important for Jets fans and a win would mean that much more.
1. Sabres @ Jets, Sunday, January 10th
Any other year a Sabres Jets game would be just another night in the NHL, but not this year and not in Winnipeg. The saga of Evander Kane in Winnipeg has been the biggest news story in Winnipeg over the four years this team has been in the city. From controversial Instagram photos:
to alleged track suit incidents, Kane was the most polarizing player in Winnipeg. Whether you loved him or hated him, he was always interesting and always grabbed your attention. While his play on the ice was never an issue, the growing number of off ice incidents became too much for the Jets and he was traded to Buffalo. The Jets got a great deal and Kane will be in a much better spot in Buffalo, he will get more ice and have a chance to be a superstar. None of that will stop Jets fans however, they will be all over Kane from the beginning of warm ups until the final buzzer. Jets fans are some of the most merciless and creative fans when it comes to being vocal and expect some classics. The only thing that may make this game more explosive is if Kane gets off to a hot start, nothing would upset Jets fans more, which makes this game a must see event.
There are 82 Winnipeg Jets games next season, and this list will likely be different for every fan. What games are you most interested in? Let us know below in the comments or on Twitter what is on your list and why it fits in.
Born and raised Winnipeg sports fan and contributor with The Hockey Writers.