September 19, 2019

Winnipeg
16° C, Overcast

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Babych, Jets popped bubbly after snapping winless skid

Dave Babych clearly recalls the champagne flowing freely at the home of then-Winnipeg Jets owner Barry Shenkarow.

He was a 19-year-old NHL rookie defenceman and hadn’t sipped much of the bubbly before.

The Jets certainly weren’t bending their elbows to celebrate a Stanley Cup victory (insert laughs here), a division title or even a lone playoff-game triumph.

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Defenceman Dave Babych was the Jets first round draft pick, second overall in 1980 and played five seasons for the Jets.</p>

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Defenceman Dave Babych was the Jets first round draft pick, second overall in 1980 and played five seasons for the Jets.

Dave Babych clearly recalls the champagne flowing freely at the home of then-Winnipeg Jets owner Barry Shenkarow.

He was a 19-year-old NHL rookie defenceman and hadn’t sipped much of the bubbly before.

The Jets certainly weren’t bending their elbows to celebrate a Stanley Cup victory (insert laughs here), a division title or even a lone playoff-game triumph.

They were rejoicing after finally halting a 30-game winless skid that lasted more than two months in late 1980.

"Shenkarow invited a bunch of the guys to his place, and it was Dom (Perignon), too. He wasn’t messing around. It wasn’t Baby Duck," Babych, 57, said Tuesday.

Winnipeg beat the equally lousy Colorado Rockies 5-4 at Winnipeg Arena on Dec. 23, just the team’s second win of the 1980-81 campaign.

The squad had dumped the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 17 and then earned seven ties to go with 23 defeats before the streak came to a merciful conclusion.

Babych had been drafted second overall that summer after a brilliant junior career with the Portland Winter Hawks and was pressed into heavy duty with the sad sack Jets, in just their second year in the NHL and just a year removed from having their personnel gutted during expansion.

The team finished with a 9-57-14 record.

"I do remember how tough it was that season. The worst part wasn’t the nine wins, it was that streak. I remember right up from the penalty box, there were people that had bags on their head. And those bags must have gotten stinky because they were wearing them a long time," said Babych, who lives in Vancouver but is in Winnipeg this week to promote the Hockey Helps the Homeless tournament, set for December.

"When Colorado came in, they were the second-worst team in the league. (ABC’s) Wide World of Sports was there, it was a big deal, because we could end what felt was like the longest winless streak in pro history. Well, we end up winning and the bags were all thrown on the ice, people were going crazy and I’m thinking ‘Oh man, what’s going to happen if we really win something? This is pretty good.’"

Babych played five seasons with the Jets 1.0 and things improved dramatically for the organization during that time when the likes of Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Paul MacLean, Laurie Boschman and Randy Carlyle arrived on the scene.

But just 19 games into the 1985-86 season, Winnipeg’s general manager, the late John Ferguson Sr., pulled off what is widely considered one of the worst trades in Jets history. He sent the top-pairing blue-liner to the Hartford Whalers for Ray Neufeld, a Manitoba-born forward who would go on to score 61 goals in 249 games in a Winnipeg jersey.

Babych was alerted to the deal moments after a 3-1 win over the visiting St. Louis Blues in late November 1985.

"I was in Winnipeg almost six years and they were terrific. I certainly didn’t plan on getting traded, but it happens. I could have easily stayed here forever," he said.

"I found out after the game. (Head coach) Barry Long says, ‘Hey, Fergie wants to see you upstairs.’ I thought that was so strange. We just won a game. I didn’t think anything of it. I thought maybe we’d go for a couple of beers.

"It wasn’t quite like that. I went for a couple of beers but it wasn’t for any good reasons."

Babych played 1,195 regular-season games over 19 seasons, split between Winnipeg, Hartford, the Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings. He finished with 142 goals and 723 points, while adding 21 goals and 62 points in 114 playoff games.

A career highlight, he said, was getting to play with his older brother, Wayne, in Hartford. The former 50-goal scorer was acquired by the Whalers a few months after Dave came over from Winnipeg.

"When we got to play together, it was nice. He’s your brother and you know him, but I got to know him as a teammate," said Dave.

"We have one picture of us together, both in our Hartford jerseys, and that’s when I set up his first goal with us that year.

"It’s really special to have."

 

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

History

Updated on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 11:14 PM CDT: Updates photo caption.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us