Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jetcetera: This just in: He loves the Jets

Mansbridge's affection goes back to the WHA glory days

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Peter Mansbridge may appear to be an unbiased journalist when he delivers the news, but that's not entirely true -- he's a huge fan of the Winnipeg Jets.

Of course, that doesn't come across during his nightly newscasts on The National, but it's plain to see for anybody who follows him on Twitter (@petermansbridge).

"Congrats to my Winnipeg Jets -- first big win of the year!" Mansbridge tweeted following the Jets' 4-2 victory over the Washington Capitals last Tuesday.

And when the team followed that up with another win over the Pittsburgh Penguins three nights later -- the night after the Toronto Maple Leafs had beaten the Penguins, too, he posted, "My two fav teams have beat the Pens now -- like winning the (Stanley) Cup!"

Working out of CBC's headquarters, Mansbridge is obviously based in Toronto, but he has very strong ties to Winnipeg and hockey in this city.

After his pipes were discovered while he was making flight announcements at the Churchill airport in 1968, Mansbridge found himself working out of CBC's Winnipeg newsroom from 1971 through late 1975.

"I was at Portage and Main when Bobby Hull signed with the Jets," he said.

Growing up in Ottawa, Mansbridge was a Maple Leafs fan when he moved here, but he quickly caught the WHA bug, closely following the exploits of Hull and his eventual linemates, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, a.k.a. The Hot Line.

"I went to tonnes of games in the old Winnipeg Arena. I was a big fan of that era of the Jets," Mansbridge said.

"That was an incredible line and I have some great memories of the old arena, listening to the sound of Hull's shot going off the boards at the other end of the ice. I had a great time watching them, it was a lot of fun."

Like so many other Winnipeggers, he said he was "devastated" when the original Jets morphed into the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996 and he was very supportive of efforts to bring the NHL back to Winnipeg.

"I'm a big fan of (Jets governor) Mark Chipman. I remember talking to him in the years leading up to getting the team back. I always felt 'there's something about this guy that's going to play well with (commissioner Gary) Bettman and that crowd.' Obviously, it did," he said.

Mansbridge is also impressed with the new version of the Jets.

"They're a young team, but they seem to be really focused on developing their style of play and working well with (coach Claude Noel), who's a bit of a Manitoba legend. They look good, cool, calm and confident," he said.

Mansbridge is no fair-weather fan, to be sure. He owns Jets season tickets, even though he has yet to see a single game at the MTS Centre.

His two daughters and their families, who live in Winnipeg, ensure the seats are full.

"They grabbed those tickets. We love the Jets and they really love the Jets," he said.

Mansbridge has, however, seen the Jets play in Toronto. (He wears neutral colours.)

"I was planning to go to the playoffs last year, but both teams let me down. I'm feeling good about the Jets this year.

"I'd definitely be out there for the playoffs. I get out to Winnipeg fairly often. So far, it hasn't teamed up with a hockey night," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 29, 2013 A2

History

Updated on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 11:02 AM CST: replaces photo

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