The 2014-15 NHL season is a little over two months away but that doesn’t mean the hockey talk in Winnipeg is slowing down. Daily debates on Twitter about the upcoming season are rampant on the social media site, as Jet fans take sides on whether the team will improve, or take a step back.
How people can still have any faith in Chevy and his plan is beyond me. The kool-aid must be delicious. #nhljets
— Ryan Blight (@arby_18) July 24, 2014
Holy crap #NHLJets fans, Chevy shocks us again by signing Carl Klingberg on a crafty 2-way deal. Who saw that coming? :) .
— Scott Campbell (@NHL_Campbell) July 17, 2014
While the argument won’t be decided until April, what Jet fans can do is check the schedule to see which home games should be circled as games they want to attend.
There will be fans that will choose different games than from the list below, but that’s part of the fun. So here is my list of the five must see Winnipeg Jet home games for 2014-15
Friday October 17 vs. Nashville
The home opener comes a little later than normal for the Winnipeg Jets. The last two full NHL seasons saw the Jets open their home slate in early October. Jet fans will have to wait until after Canadian Thanksgiving to see their beloved team on MTS Centre ice.
This game has an added meaning as well. There was talk in the offseason that the Nashville Predators were in discussions with the Jets about a possible trade involving Evander Kane. Those rumours were put to rest, thanks to a scathing column by Joshua Cooper of the Tennessean, who lambasted the Jets forward for a lack of character. This may light a fire under the young Jets star as he use this column as motivation for this game.
This is also a divisional contest in which points are vital. The Central Division is arguably the toughest division in the NHL so points are a premium, even in October. It also marks the return of Olli Jokinen, who signed a one-year contract with the Predators, after spending the last two seasons with the Jets. Could be an interesting night.
Sunday October 19 vs. Calgary
The special event surrounding this game is that this will be the first game in Canada, on Rogers new Sunday night package that starts this season. Dubbed Hometown Hockey, Rogers will host games from a different community rink every Sunday, with the NHL matchup being the main event. Longtime Hockey Night In Canada personality Ron MacLean will host the Sunday showcase game.
This might be more of a television event, but it might also be a showcase for Jet fans to show a national television audience how loud the MTS Centre can be. While the Calgary Flames will have something to say about that, this is a chance for the Jets and their fans to show the country what Winnipeg is about.
Saturday December 13 vs. Anaheim
Saturday night hockey in Canada is a tradition dating back to the 1931. While the Jets do have four Saturday night home games on the docket, the tilt against the Anaheim Ducks in mid-December could be special.
Could this be the night the Jets and the city of Winnipeg honour Teemu Selanne? Yes, the Finnish Flash is retired but this would be the perfect night to pay tribute to one of the most popular players to ever play in Winnipeg. While there is no guarantee the Jets will honour Selanne this season, it would be a nice touch if they did honour Selanne with the team the Finnish Flash had the most success with in town for the proceedings.
No Jets fan will ever forget Selanne’s return to Winnipeg in the 2011-12 season, in which the 1993 Calder Trophy winner received a lengthy standing ovation from the first NHL city he called home. Jets fans can only hope that True North Sports and Entertainment can make this a reality.
Wednesday December 31 vs. New York Islanders
New Year’s Eve has been a traditional home date for Winnipeg hockey fans, dating back to the original incarnation of the NHL Jets, as well as the old Manitoba Moose of the IHL and AHL. Once again, Jets fans can ring in the new year by seeing their hometown heroes one last time in 2014.
The New York Islanders are not one of the most glamourous teams in the NHL, but they do have one of the game’s brightest stars in John Tavares, and are looking to be an improved side next season.
Will it be a New Year’s Eve party to remember for Jet fans? Or will they be crying in their champagne when midnight rolls around?
Sunday March 1 vs. Los Angeles
The only visit by the defending Stanley Cup champions takes place on a Sunday afternoon in March. The Los Angeles Kings are a force to be reckoned with, as they look to repeat as Cup champions.
One of the Jets most memorable victories last season was against the Kings in the home opener, as the Jets thrilled their fans with a 5-3 victory over the Kings.
This game could be the last home game before the NHL trade deadline, so it could be the final home game for some Jets players. If the Jets struggle this season, they could be looking at dumping some contracts, or replacing some veteran players with some youth. The future is still unknown but this game could have some major implications on where the Jets are headed down the road.