The excitement, atmosphere and anticipation which came with the return of the Winnipeg Jets is something that can never be replicated in this city. It will go down in the history books as not only one of the biggest moments in the history of Winnipeg but the history of the sport. However, just like anything in life, it is important for the organization and fans alike, to remember the growing pains that the team has gone through to become the playoff club which they are today.
There are players like Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd who have spent all four years here, embracing the community and taking on obstacles as they come. They are what many people describe as the “core” and have spilt blood, sweat and tears to earn that title. With that being said, there are some players who were part of the inaugural season, that have already been forgotten. They are one-offs, sporting the Jets’ jersey in the first season for different periods of time with varying success. I thought it would be fitting to revisit the 2011-12 season and take a look at some of the players whose first season with the blue and white would end up being their last.
Tim Stapleton- The speedy right winger from Illinois came into the 2011 season after having a cup of coffee with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Atlanta Thrashers. The 2011-12 season was Stapleton’s first full season in the NHL and the former University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog put up 11 goals and 16 assists in 63 games with the Jets. However, his 27 points were not enough for the Jets to make a big push to resign the 5’9 Stapleton. He would go on to sign with Minsk Dynamo of the KHL. In 2014-2015 he split his time between Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik and Magnitogorsk Metallurg of the KHL, notching 31 points in 55 games.
Tanner Glass- The grinder who originally cut his teeth in the NHL with the Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks was the steady right winger on the applauded GST line which also featured the likes of Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn. Glass put up 16 points in 78 games with 73 penalty minutes. He would drop the mitts seven different times, going toe-to-toe with the likes of Brandon Prust and Clayton Stoner. The Jets wanted to re-sign the Dartmouth College graduate, but the Pittsburgh Penguins made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Glass is now with the New York Rangers, much to the media’s dismay and has suited up for all of the Rangers’ playoffs games thus far.
Eric Fehr- The Jets acquired the Manitoba born Fehr from the Capitals in the summer of 2011 for Danick Paquette and a fourth round pick in 2012. The Jets’ brass had high hopes for the former Brandon Wheat King but Fehr would only dress in 35 games posting three points and a -6 +/- rating. Since parting ways with the Jets, the 6’4 winger has returned to the Capitals and enjoyed success putting up 33 points in 2014-15.
Mark Flood- Winnipeggers got their first look at Flood when he suited up for the Manitoba Moose in 2010-11 posting 40 points in 63 games. He would go on to suit up for 33 games in 2011-12, posting seven points in a limited role with the Jets. The defenseman from Charlottetown would make the move to the KHL in 2012 after rejecting a two-way contract from the Jets.
Randy Jones- The Jets signed Randy Jones in the summer of 2011 after seasons with the Flyers, Kings and Lightning. He would dress in 39 games for the Jets posting two points and a plus 4 +/- rating. The 2011-12 season would be his last in the NHL.
Chris Mason- The veteran goalie came to Winnipeg when the Thrashers relocated to Manitoba. The former fifth round pick of New Jersey was expected to provide steady backup play to Ondrej Pavelec and he did just that. Mason would go 8-7-1 with a 2.59 GAA in 2011-12 while providing veteran leadership to a relatively young group. However, in the summer of 2012, Mason would sign with the Nashville Predators
Ben Maxwell- The 6’1-195 pound centre from North Vancouver, British Columbia, would bounce back and forth between the Anaheim Ducks and the Jets. Maxwell finished the season with 5 points in 9 games with Winnipeg. The former second round pick of Montreal in 2006 has since made the move overseas.
Spencer Machachek- The former third round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007 endeared Jets’ fans with his feisty play in his brief stint with the big club. Machachek put up 9 points in 13 games in 2011-12 but those handful of games would be his last with the Jets. He now plays for the Augsburg Panthers in Germany.
Johnny Oduya would be traded midway through the season to Chicago, where he would end up hoisting a cup in 2013. Kenndal McArdle, Arturs Kulda, Peter Mannino, Brett MacLean and Brett Festerling, all spent time in the Jets line-up in 2011-12 with limited success and have since moved onto other organizations.
Writer’s notes: I wanted to highlight specific players who played for the Jets in 2011-12 and were either permanently demoted to the AHL or moved onto different leagues. In my opinion, Patrice Cormier and Jason Jaffray still have a chance of wearing a Jets’ uniform in the coming years, thus why they weren’t mentioned above.
Former CJAHL hockey player turned coach, turned scout.