October 21, 2018

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Their heart will go on

How Celine Dion's signature ballad became the Winnipeg Jets' victory anthem

LAS VEGAS -- It might just be the most absurd victory song in all sports. And for the Winnipeg Jets, the bizarre idea for what has become their memorable rallying cry was born here in Sin City.

We take you back to last November, when this young squad was still struggling to find its way. They'd opened the season with a pair of painful back-to-back losses, which had some fans already reaching for the panic button.

And while they were able to right the ship fairly quickly, it wasn't until after they touched down in Vegas that the Jets really got airborne.

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LAS VEGAS — It might just be the most absurd victory song in all sports. And for the Winnipeg Jets, the bizarre idea for what has become their memorable rallying cry was born here in Sin City.

We take you back to last November, when this young squad was still struggling to find its way. They'd opened the season with a pair of painful back-to-back losses, which had some fans already reaching for the panic button.

And while they were able to right the ship fairly quickly, it wasn't until after they touched down in Vegas that the Jets really got airborne.

They had kicked off that particular three-game road trip with impressive 4-1 victory in Dallas, then flew to Vegas immediately after, where they enjoyed three full days between game action. On one of their off-nights, most of the team headed for the Omnia Nightclub in Caesars Palace. Some of the most popular DJs in the world were playing a benefit concert following the October mass shooting tragedy.

In between the thumping bass and pounding beats, Canadian songstress Celine Dion made a surprise appearance. And she belted out My Heart Will Go On, her famous ballad.

The Jets got thumped a couple nights later at T-Mobile as Vegas skated circles around them in a 5-2 win. But the following night, Winnipeg responded with an impressive 4-1 bounce-back victory in Arizona.

And veteran forward Mathieu Perreault decided to change things up with the post-game music playlist.

The Las Vegas Strip.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Las Vegas Strip.

"I thought I'd put it on after the game because we won the game, to make the guys laugh. And it just kind of stuck around with us," Perreault told the Free Press Wednesday morning as his Jets prepared to take on the Golden Knights in Game 3 of the Western Conference final.

Winnipeg immediately went on a four-game winning streak, and a 9-2-1 run overall, which included a 7-4 victory on home ice over Vegas at Bell MTS Place. Being the superstitious sort and not wanting to mess with success, the players made Dion's music a regular part of dressing room protocol.

The Omnia nightclub in Las Vegas, where several Jets players saw Celine Dion make a surprise appearance during a benefit concert.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Omnia nightclub in Las Vegas, where several Jets players saw Celine Dion make a surprise appearance during a benefit concert.

"She's an icon of music. Even if you're not from Quebec everybody knows about her. No one was against it for sure," said Perreault. "We've had success playing it, so now we've just been going with it."

Defenceman Josh Morrissey said building a winning team isn't just about throwing the 20 most talented players out against the other team hoping for the best. Chemistry, both on and off the ice, is important. And even the smallest things, such as a funny victory song, help build that up.

"I think it was kind of a fun thing in the dressing room. Something that, over the course of a season, obviously it's a long year. There's lots of little things you can rally behind and have fun with. And that was one of those moments for sure that was pretty funny, that some guys got a good laugh in," Morrissey said Wednesday. "Those are some of those fun times you remember when you look back on the season, things like that that develop over time."

Of course, it's worth noting that My Heart Will Go On is most famously linked to the Titanic movie. And given how that ended, some might question the logic of a sports team tying their hopes to a song famously related to a sinking ship.

Celine Dion impersonator Steven Wayne performs at The LINQ in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The real Celine's ballad "My Heart Will Go On" has become the Winnipeg jets victory song.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Celine Dion impersonator Steven Wayne performs at The LINQ in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The real Celine's ballad "My Heart Will Go On" has become the Winnipeg jets victory song.

"It's different, but whatever works," said Christian Rivard, a Winnipegger who is in Vegas this week to watch the Jets along with his three brothers and their father.

"It's an interesting thing, for sure," said Nicolas Rivard.

"Let's just hope the Vegas Golden Knights are Leo at the end," added Jeremie Rivard, referring to actor Leonardo DeCaprio, whose character drowns in the movie.

If it's a bad omen, the Jets don’t seem worried. And as they continue to navigate the waters of the Stanley Cup playoffs, they no doubt hope for continued smooth sailing.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

Read full biography

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