Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
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Glory days have arrived
Don't tell me it's only a hockey team.
Having moved away from Winnipeg in my youth, I have always maintained my love of the city and its hockey team.
When the fans united with their season-ticket purchases, I was obviously thrilled but not surprised about what Winnipeggers will do for the game. All of my great Winnipeg Jets memories started flooding back, and I can barely keep up with them.
I am being taken back to a particular time of innocence and a sense of community that I have yet to rediscover in my adulthood. So when I came skipping into work upon the news of the Jets return and a co-worker said, "It's only a hockey team," it's safe to say that some unpleasant words left my mouth.
Don't tell me it's only a hockey team. It was three bus transfers in minus -30 C weather with the long walk through Polo Park to the Winnipeg Arena, where you'd find everyone carrying around their three layers of clothing and sweating profusely. It was climbing the millions of stairs to the cheap seats where I would suffer vertigo and you couldn't see the scoreboard.
It was seeing Gretzky play and not knowing it was a big deal. It was waiting after the game to get the players to sign your program. It was being part of the playoff whiteouts where the fans supplied their own whites. It was watching Carlyle play without a helmet. It was riding your bike down Oak Street hoping to catch a glimpse of one of your favourite players.
Don't tell me it's only a hockey team. It is part of my history and memories. I remember walking to Crescentwood Community Centre in the pitch black and lacing up my skates, wishing that I could skate like Hawerchuk. I remember waking up early on Saturday morning and going to Salisbury House. I remember tobogganing on the Assiniboine.
I remember wishing that my parents would finally let us go to Tinkertown on our way to Lake of the Woods. I remember bowling lessons at Academy Lanes. I remember knowing more French back then than I have in years.
Now it gets to be part of my present and future. I am ready with my retro gear, my soon-to-be-purchased new gear, my Winnipeg Jets app and the team schedule on hand always.
Cheers, Winnipeg, for making this an exciting time for all of us believers. Go, Jets, go!
Michel Saint Hilaire's hockey-themed mural All the Way to the Stars (He paints, he scores, Sept. 30) is impressive. As someone who has spent some time in Paris, and is very familiar with the city, I was particularly struck by the resemblance of the winged female figure in the mural to François Rude's sculpture La Marseillaise on the Arc de Triomphe at the west end of the Champs-Élysées.
The cross reference is appropriate, because La Marseillaise is also the title of the national anthem of France, and with a little imagination, not to mention poetic licence, the first line of the anthem, "Allons, enfants de la patrie," could be changed to "Allons, jouers de l'équipe Winnipeg Jets."
The second line of the anthem, "Le jour de gloire est arrivé," is even more appropriate. For Winnipeg hockey fans, the day of glory has arrived.
As a former Atlanta resident and Thrashers fan, I cannot believe my luck that my old team will be following me home to Winnipeg.
At Thrashers games, it was customary for the crowd to shout "Knights" during the singing of the American national anthem at the line "Gave proof through the 'knights' that our flag was still there." (The Atlanta Knights were an IHL team that was relocated to make way for the Thrashers.)
As a way to carry on Thrashers tradition, and to pay tribute to True North Sports & Entertainment for bringing an NHL team back to Winnipeg, during the singing of the Canadian national anthem, the crowd should shout "True North" at the line "the true north strong and free."
I am very proud of the Winnipeg Jets hockey fans and the support they showed for our new Jets during the first exhibition game.
These fans cheered for the team as they stepped onto the ice. They sang the national anthem with patriotism and volume. They went crazy when the Jets scored their first goal. And they encouraged the Jets with another "Go, Jets, go" after the Columbus team scored.
This is how hockey fans should behave.
Winnipeg has a tradition of trendsetting in hockey. We started the "whiteout," and now all teams are doing a version of this.
Let's start another tradition with the intention of safeguarding our hockey players.
Let's not cheer whenever there is a fight. Coach Claude Noel has said that our team is built upon skill and speed. This makes for an exciting hockey game. If there is a fight, don't stand up and cheer. Sit there. Quietly. If you must stand up, then stand up and boo!
Fighting has had its time in hockey, but that time is past. Let us now think about the safety of our young hockey players.
Let Winnipeg be the place that started the removal of fighting from hockey. That is something that would make me extremely proud. Together, it could happen.
After watching Coach's Corner last week, I've figured out Don Cherry's credo. It's "Do not go quietly into the hockey night. Rage, rage against the dying of the hockey fight."
While the Cherrysaurus Rex rants, his single-purpose brain doesn't realize that there's a new ice age approaching. Like his ancestors from previous epochs, he and his species are about to become extinct. They're just too stuck in their ways to realize it. It's evolution, man.
I remember my first Jets game in 1979. I remember Dale Hawerchuk signing at Portage at Main. I remember birthday parties at the arena. I remember getting goosebumps during whiteouts. I remember being afraid to sit in the upper deck.
I remember the voices of Brian Swain, the Friar and Curt Keilback. I remember my dad convincing me that the horn at the end of the first period was a signal for kids to go to bed.
I remember falling asleep listening to games on the radio. I remember collecting hockey cards at the RCMP station in Gimli. I remember being a Jets McFan.
I remember being numb when Hawerchuk was traded. I remember Fredrik Olausson's stray slapshots hitting the Pepsi sign. I remember Van Halen's Jump at the start of games.
I remember the crowd roaring when Teemu Selanne broke Mike Bossy's record. I remember almost jumping through the TV when Dave Ellett beat the Oilers. I remember Selanne's trade, and being numb again.
I remember kids emptying their piggy banks trying to save the Jets. I remember Don Wittman's voice after the last game, and not being able to move. I remember Eddie Olczyk's speech. I remember meeting Hawerchuk at a legends game, and feeling like that eight-year-old kid again.
I remember my heart racing when news broke that the team was coming back. Thanks to Mark Chipman's group, more kids can start to remember, too!
St. Albert, Alta.
Mark Chipman is an empathetic man who looks more at home with hot milk and buttered biscuits. Yet this self-effacing individual -- the reverse of the comic-book image of a brash, flashy NHL owner -- is the catalyst of a remarkable success story called True North.
In character, he would minimize his role in creating the Manitoba Moose, the Winnipeg Jets and a beautiful downtown arena for them. And it is true that without his more than 100 employees working to an impossible deadline and creating the Jets from the ice up in, I think, 115 days, we'd still be waiting for our dream to be reality.
I'm somewhat of a cynic, Mr. Chipman, but I marvel at what you and your skilled people have accomplished.
Thank you, John Longhurst, for speaking up about the Jets logo (It's great to have the Jets back, but they missed the net on the logo, Oct. 1).
I, too, felt very pleased that the people of Winnipeg (and the rest of us Manitobans) got the Jets back but am disappointed that the logo is militarized.
A quote by that great humanist Erasmus might be of help. He said, "War is the blackest villainy of which human nature is capable."
Ever since Mark Chipman unveiled the new Jets logo, I have been waiting for a burst of outrage from Winnipeggers, and of course from parents all over Manitoba -- especially hockey moms and dads. My nightmare was the applause.
Why? Because that logo depicts a sleek aerial killing machine -- nothing else. A fighter jet kills long-distance, not like in hockey, where it's up close and personal.
And by now we know the tragedies brought about by personal brutality and carnage in NHL arenas. Need I say more? Shall I cite names perhaps?
When will we ever learn?
PETER F. HIEBERT
My heart felt as if it were almost full to bursting as the sound of 15,000 strong singing O Canada with pride and excitement filled the MTS Centre for the second pre-season home game of the new Winnipeg Jets.
A few months ago I did not believe that I would ever actually see the Winnipeg Jets return. I thought it had been too long and that even if a return of the NHL came to be it could not mean a return of the beloved Jets. I didn't want to get excited. I told myself it was a bad idea and that I didn't care if they came back. But I did.
I wanted it just as fervently as many others in this city, but after years and years of hearing rumours and promises, I could no longer bring myself to believe it had a chance. I had fully prepared myself for it to be once again nothing but false rumour and false hope. I wasn't in the least prepared for it to actually come true.
Even when it was 100 per cent confirmed that the Jets were coming home, I still somehow doubted it. Watching the first pre-season game on TV, I started to get excited as I began to realize what had happened. But it wasn't until the second game that it really hit me full force.
Only when I heard that amazing burst of pride that the singing of O Canada brought, followed by a loud and rousing chorus of "Go, Jets, go," was I finally able to believe that this is truly a return of not just NHL hockey but a return of the Winnipeg Jets.
The old logo, the players, the coaches and even the arena are long gone, but the fans never left. They were all still here just waiting, and now that the wait is over, they are making up for lost time. The decibel level, as well as the sheer level of excitement, is one of the highest I have ever seen or heard broadcast.
To put it into perspective for my fellow Canadians, the return of the Jets is for Manitobans, in terms of pride and excitement, what all Canada felt during that final men's game of the Vancouver Olympics. It really is that good.
We are welcoming home a beloved friend after a 15-year absence and we are doing it very, very loudly.
The staff at the MTS Centre goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure your comfort. That was our experience at the Sept. 28 Jets exhibition game.
A special thank you to Tony Lorry and Ryan for your exceptional kindnesses.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 10, 2011 A13
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