Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

NHL party shifts to Portage and Main

  • Print

The party to celebrate the return of the NHL to Winnipeg shifted to Portage and Main after police shut down festivities at The Forks just before 10 p.m.

About 1,000 people converged on the corner after being shooed away from The Forks — the site of the official party — by police.

After hours of cheers, beers and crowd-surfing, police started to shut down the party at The Forks  just before 10 p.m.

Minutes later, police closed Portage and Main for the second time Tuesday, as partiers streaming out of The Forks took the revelry back to that intersection for another round.

The Forks would down its official NHL party around 6 p.m., but about 1,000 people were still in the area after dark.

Crowds had clustered under the canopy, cracking beers and offering up deafening chants of "Go Jets go" and other, less family-friendly cheers.

Police Staff Sgt. Rick Sharma sent out a notice at 9:45 p.m. asking partiers to stay away.

"Currently the conditions at the Forks Market have grown to be unsafe for public attendance and police are asking all persons to stop attending to the Forks Market," he wrote.

"Police are in the process of removing all unruly persons from the Forks Market and closing down the event for tonight."

Long before the party turned rowdy, fan Cassidy Dankochik, who took the day off from his job, enjoyed the festivities.

"It’s the Jets, man. Nothing bigger than the Jets," he said. "The Jets come back and Vancouver wins the Cup all in one year — and we can hate each other next year!"

And through the crowds and cheers, the fervent games of shinny and flagrantly enjoyed beers, one question hung in the damp air: when exactly did everyone in Winnipeg acquire a Jets jersey?

Because they all had them, from teens too young to remember a single Jets game, to a steely-haired man wearing a holey vintage jersey and flipping pucks at Portage and Main.

Also at The Forks, a bevy of local politicians came bedecked in Jets gear: Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge was spotted in a personalized jersey, while Tory MLA Hugh McFadyen — who famously made bringing back the Jets a centrepiece of his 2007 campaign — celebrated his birthday by donning his Jets schwag for the festivities.

Meanwhile, Mayor Sam Katz led Coun. Scott Fielding and former Jet, Coun. Thomas Steen, in a city-council conga line that snaked around The Forks’ jam-packed centre canopy. "When are the Winnipeg Jets coming back? Today!" Katz yelled before launching the dance.

Katz wasn’t the only reveller at The Forks who came ready to shake his moneymaker.

In fact, the most famously mobile Jets fan of all was one of the first at the scene. "I’m ready to dance," shouted Dancin’ Gabe Langlois. "It’s going to be the greatest day in Winnipeg sports history."

That was a sentiment shared by thousands — including a few who had been a part of sports history themselves. Before DJ Co-op and DJ Hunnicutt started spinning big beats, a passel of former NHL players — including Steen, Billy Lesuk and Russ Romaniuk — took to The Forks’ small stage to cheer the news.

"I think it’s a great day for the city," said Ab McDonald, the first captain the Jets ever had. "It was tough (to lose them) — but it is sweet now. A lot of people said it wouldn’t happen — and not in my lifetime — but I’d say we’ll get it back with a new arena."

During the opening hours of the party, it did bear a family-friendly vibe: in fact, a whole Grade 6 class from Tache School poured into The Forks, screaming in delight when the announcement broke. "We were supposed to have an outdoor activity day and it was cancelled," teacher Lynne Comault said.

"We figured we were close by The Forks so we'd just start walking. The students didn't know where we were going. They have gone from an outdoor activity to a history lesson."


Updated on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 9:45 PM CDT: Updates with details, quotes.

9:57 PM: Adds police quotes

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg Cheapskate: Tech support alternatives

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A goose heads for shade in the sunshine Friday afternoon at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg - Day 26– June 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Will you miss the old Banana Boat building?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google