Here are some comments from five original Winnipeg Jets during an informal chat at the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe on Thursday evening.
Ab McDonald: (On playing an old-timers game in Russia against some of the former Summit Series players in 1982): "They had a sellout there and a lot of the dignitaries, a lot of the top Russians were there to watch the game. Sasha Kharlamov, (son of Soviet hockey legend, Valeri Kharlamov, who had been killed in a car accident two years earlier) was on my shoulders. I skated around the rink and got a standing ovation. They tell me the dignitaries had tears in their eyes after that. When we first went over here, the Canadian embassy didn't even want to recognize that we were there. After we played that game, they said, 'these guys are doing great for Canada. They've done better than we have in 24 years. They come here and play one game and we're talking to the Russians.' Does it take the diplomats to do the greatest good? I think in one game, we did more for Canada. Then they invited us to the Canadian embassy and said, 'you guys can have all the beer you want now, Canadian beer. The Russian beer wasn't very good.' "
Duke Asmundson: (On the large number of Manitobans on the team)
"You put your pants on one leg at a time. That was the camaraderie that was developed in Winnipeg. We had our training camp in Kenora and that got everybody together and it seemed to meld. It doesn't matter who you are and what you've done, it's where you're from. We all know where we're from."
Joe Daley: (On the legacy of the 1972-73 team.) There's no doubt in my mind that without the start in '72 that we wouldn't be gathering here to talk about any kind of hockey, NHL or otherwise. There's no way that the NHL would have looked at Winnipeg for a franchise anywhere down the line. We are all, in a humble way, pretty proud of the fact that we got something started that we can all enjoy today.
Dunc Rousseau: (On fighting Jerry "King Kong" Korab in the minors.) "I thought 'I'll throw a couple of quick ones and then hang on.' I did that and I was pretty successful. But I was holding on tight and I thought, 'geez, I can't keep doing this, I gotta get him on the ice.' So I grabbed his pants and went to lift up but he didn't move and his pants ripped. I thought, 'oh, oh, hang on!'"
Bill Sutherland: "We had 23 guys who would do anything to win a game. And if we didn't play well with the Jets, we could always (fall back) on our guitar club. We lead the WHA with guitars. Ab (McDonald) was our singer."
Joe Daley: "Ab was the captain of the team so all of the parties were at Ab's place. We even had the Guess Who there, so I think we were pretty powerful at that time. They were hockey fans, too. Big-time. They didn't play, though. They weren't as good as Ab."