Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 04/26/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
And the last period would mean nothing.
The Winnipeg Jets played 47 games and two periods of meaningful hockey this season before finally succumbing.
They stepped on the ice for the final 20 minutes of their regular season knowing they had been eliminated.
Their fans came back to their seats for one more period of hockey knowing their post-season dreams would not come true.
There was an opportunity for this to be one more moment of magic. A hard-fought period on the ice punctuated by a sonic send-off from the stands.
But it wasn't to be. And in the drying of one final sweat and the spilling of beer suddenly gone flat, a new message began to ring.
No longer is playing in the NHL enough. That novelty has faded and a more lasting impression is craved. One of success.
The final score was 4-2 for the visiting Montreal Canadiens and by the time the buzzer arrived, there was no steam left in the players or the fans. The promise of this season had been broken. And hearts in Jets jerseys, both on the ice and in the stands, were stopped.
The Jets, having been dealt one final cruel blow, had nothing left to offer. Their will had been broken. Weeks of tottering on an emotional ledge had taken its toll, and now with their fate determined, the Jets went fetal. No fight, no push-back, no nothing.
Taking its cue from the players, the audience many consider the best in hockey lost its voice.
The Jets led 2-1 as they cleaned the ice after 40 minutes, but a series of gifts quickly made it 4-2 and the end of the season was all but official.
With five minutes left, the house tried once more to urge on its soldiers, but they couldn't muster any emotion from themselves, let alone have it cascade down to the ice. As the final minute of their season came upon them, the crowd turned to their standard rainmaker and pumped out one more version of Go Jets Go.
But it lacked punch.
In those final moments last night, clarity was reached for this franchise. Membership no longer filled the void. More will be needed to move the needle going forward.
Is the honeymoon over? Only the fans know that answer, but the end must certainly be in sight. It'll take more than just a wink to get things warmed up going forward. A little work, a little romance will now be required. The playoffs will certainly turn the trick for all involved, but that's far from a guarantee going forward as the Jets enter an off-season fraught with uncertainty.
Head coach Claude Noel turns to his coaches after a victory and shakes all their hands on the bench.
Thursday night, as the curtain drew, Noel just slipped down the tunnel not breaking stride to look up. His disappointment was palpable even from the heights of the press box.
In an unfortunate quirk of planning, the Jets were forced to leave the ice, take off their jerseys and then come back to the ice to award them to contest winners.
The looks on their faces and the slump in their shoulders plainly told the story. They were spent and shrouded in regret.
By the time the players were done with this exercise and got around to moving to centre ice to salute the fans, the building was less than half full.
The symbolism couldn't be missed.
No longer can Winnipeg be satisfied with just being there.
email@example.com Twitter: @garylawless
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 26, 2013 C3
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
No-churn ice cream gives you all the creamy taste with none of the hassle
That empty (nest) feeling
Long wait over for odd-couple cop show
Try to win back her affections, but don’t text
PC leader keeps far from flood fight's crucial front lines
Fringe flap gets ugly
Dungy would deny Sam the opportunity he was given
Council ripe for third-party rule?
PST court challenge was risky political ruse
'I could have texted all night': Selfie a modern My Fair Lady
Good idea to leave town to escape ex-girlfriend
Wiener dog a wonder at weight loss
Peacock network regains top spot
I say, they've noticed our potential in London
Blowing up bad music an explosive idea
Proposed daily limits, labelling rules to give consumers better handle on sugar intake
Ease daughter's friend out of your bed, home
Keep your hands off hunk you supervise
Call inquiry into city hall's rotten, fetid mess
Fringe festival has revolutionary roots
A century-old love story
Inspecting crops with drones? It will happen
Couple struggles to cope with disability
Your weekend weather
Breeding population just ducky on Prairies
Help mom expand her social life outside of family
Whipping exposes abundant flaws
Going ape over motion capture
The globetrotter's portfolio: Canadian investors should seek returns beyond their own backyard
Ta-ta, traditional TV
Feel free to ignore the Gris
Canadians show more apathy than hostility toward organized religion
Lacklustre Blue didn't help their bottom line
The dog and his noisy duck are quack-ers
Some rare good news from CRA
Whether friend was assaulted or not, she needs help to deal with problem
Flood recovery initiatives need better oversight
O-line a disaster area