Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets ready to reach out to alumni

Making move with outdoor game in future

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It's been three years since the NHL returned to Winnipeg, but True North Sports & Entertainment hasn't created any relationship with the alumni of the original Jets.

That's about to change.

With an outdoor game at Investors Group Field in the next couple of years all but locked up, True North has confirmed it will turn back the clock with an alumni game involving players from Jets 1.0.

'We should honour the guys that we grew up worshipping. Many of the season-ticket holders today were there in the '70s and '80s when we were cheering on guys like Hull, Nilsson, Hedberg, Sullivan and Lukowich'

-- Jets fan Clancy Ethans

Jets spokesman Scott Brown said while the team can't confirm an outdoor game, all indications are there will be one "in the near future" in Winnipeg.

"When the time comes, there will most likely be an alumni event as part of the celebration, and we fully intend to engage our Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose alumni as part of that game," he said.

Such statements brought a quick reply from Jordy Douglas, president of the Winnipeg Jets Alumni.

"We're elated, and we're excited," he said.

Douglas had expressed frustration in the past about True North not including the alumni in any events, particular during the past season. He said he understood the first year was crazy for many reasons, and the second year was disrupted by the lockout.

"The past is to be remembered and acknowledged, it's not to be worshipped. We're not going in there saying, 'Look at this history.' That's for the fans to deal with. The (new) Winnipeg Jets can develop their own history, but are you telling me the people in this province are going to forget about the Avco Cup teams or the NHL battles with the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers?" he said.

Created in 1988, the Jets Alumni has continued to be active in the community and still presents scholarships to high school athletes every year.

Longtime Jets fan Clancy Ethans said he believes True North has done everything right since the news conference at the MTS Centre on May 31, 2011, announcing the purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers. Paying tribute to Winnipeg's hockey heroes would be the last step (besides hosting a few playoff games).

"We should honour the guys that we grew up worshipping. Many of the season-ticket holders today were there in the '70s and '80s when we were cheering on guys like Hull, Nilsson, Hedberg, Sullivan and Lukowich," he said.

"The Winnipeg Jets players from back then mean something to our community, our city and to me as an old Winnipeg Jets fan."

Brown noted True North worked with the alumni of both the Jets and the Moose before the purchase of the Thrashers, but the team hasn't had any events yet where the relationship could be rekindled.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 2, 2014 A7

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