THE return of the Jets might be the story of the year for many Winnipeggers, but getting a first look at their jerseys was tops for online readers.
Coverage of the jersey unveiling at 17 Wing Winnipeg was the most-viewed story on winnipegfreepress.com in 2011, generating more than 91,000 views.
The story included live video from the press conference, which saw Jets captain Andrew Ladd, defenceman Mark Stuart and forwards Eric Fehr and Nik Antropov step out of the back hatch of a Canadian Forces Hercules aircraft decked out in the new team's colours.
That's not to say the rumour, innuendo and eventual confirmation of the team's return didn't draw crowds: Two other stories in the top 10 were linked to the Jets, including the story of their confirmed return to Winnipeg.
Among the remaining seven were two of the year's most hotly debated local stories: at No. 2, the article of a Manitoba judge whose comments during a sexual assault trial sparked a national outcry, and the story of a Portage la Prairie man hit with a speeding ticket and driver's licence suspension while rushing his pregnant wife to hospital in Brandon.
Also popular this year: the incredibly cute (a baby polar bear cam) and the rather odd (a Quebec mayor who left a 20-tonne boulder on his ex-wife's lawn).
In some cases, other news websites helped unlikely candidates catapult into the Free Press top 10: a story about U.S. Republican Party presidential hopeful Ron Paul pulling ahead in polls picked up steam after being linked to social news website Reddit, and a story on Spain's arrest of three alleged hackers got heavy traction on Twitter and Facebook.
Not all of the year's coverage fit the constraints of the list, but the flood of 2011 warrants a mention. Our live cameras and interactive features drew hundreds of thousands of page views as flooding wore on, 300,000-plus for the flood cams alone.
Eye-catching web posts
1. VIDEO: Jets unveil official new jerseys -- 91,159 views
2. Rape victim 'inviting,' so no jail -- 83,584 views
3. He saves baby's life, gets huge ticket -- 82,789 views
4. Mayor's gift to ex-wife? A 20-tonne boulder on her lawn, wrapped in ribbon & note -- 81,396 views
5. Spain arrests 3 hackers suspected of belonging to international cyber-attack group Anonymous -- 78,134 views
6. Toronto Maple Leafs confirm pictures of third jersey are legitimate -- 63,236 views
7. LIVE: Churchill polar bear cam a hit -- 57,083 views
8. Back in the big leagues: NHL returns to Winnipeg -- 50,486 views
9. Ron Paul pulling past Michele Bachmann in polls, Americans taking notice -- 48,573 views
10. Thrashers sale report 'not accurate' -- 47,061 views