Monday, July 18, 2011

And Alexander Wept

Anyone who has been following the return of the jets for any length of time knows the name Darren Ford. Love him or hate him he was one of the first to carry the comeback torch and his web site was a de facto refuge for many displaced fans during the lean years.  The fan forum attached to the main-site became a close knit club where the disease of true beliverism was not only allowed but encouraged to spread.

This all seems matter of fact now, as the team prepares to drop the puck on its first comeback season, but not too long ago a good number of Winnipeggers didn’t want to hear about the Jets coming back. The 1996 scab never completely healed and a lot of people didn’t want to be led down a garden path yet again. So those who clung to the dream where seen as crackpots, crazy dreamers or deluded reminiscers living in the past. The forum became a refuge where like minded “crazies” could discuss possibilities, distill media reports of teams in trouble, and ponder local ownership developments. Of course it also became the main incubator for rumours and a destination for bonafide crackpots.

For many years people would check in at the site not even bothering to click on the fan forum, but once they did they were treated to a stew of hardcore fans, crazies, insiders, and later lurking media types. As the ownership picture began to come into focus the discussions became more and more about when as opposed to if.

Media reports actually began to suggest that Winnipeg was a viable destination for an NHL franchise and Garry Bettman himself alluded to the fact the Winnipeg had an NHL calibre rink and ownership ready to buy a team.  The message board transformed into an information hub, with real anonymous insiders confirming suspicions and letting details slip weeks before the mainstream media .  A loyal corp. of internet Googlers would take pride in being first to post any news items pertaining to the return of an NHL team within minutes of being available on-line.

Many mainstream media types started lurking the corridors of the ROTJ (which was now its main nickname),  and how did you know? Because they would lift quotes directly from discussions! Many a journalist would out themselves to the ROTJ faithful through a lifted quote or miscue when participating in discussions.
Finally on May 31’st the all the talk and postulation reached a crescendo, the team was coming home. The discussions were kept alive with congratulations and a communal outpouring of emotion. Of course  the name debate was still as rabid as ever. However after the draft, discussion began to fade. The once mighty ROTJ was starting to feel like a high school during summer break, the classes where empty and only the summer school students roamed the halls.  
Finally on July 15th Darren Ford posted this:

“Hello Everyone

I have yet to make a final post on, but it will come shortly. As for this board, it's had a good run, but it is time to ease it into retirement. 

But we're not done! Not by a long shot. We just need a new home. A more offical home that is fully moderated 'round the clock. Alex and Tom are spent! I am excited that I will soon be able to announce exactly what and where this will be, but I expect you ALL to follow over. I want you guys to be a part of the next phase.

Jake's Tickets has found an official partner also to be annoucned soon, as will a website dedicated to posting the kids that get to go to the games.
Stay tuned for details on this thread.

The ROTJ boards will wind down in over the course of the next few weeks with a likely drop dead date sometime in August. Boards will not be erased, but all will be locked.

Until then, continue to discuss things as usual.”

Although I knew this was coming, I must admit I had a bit of twinge of remorse.  The ROTJ had become a big part of a lot of people’s lives running up to the acquisition of the team. Friends were made during the lively discussions that took place there over the years and it had been the ROTJ that vindicated us in the end.

The ROTJ is now definitely in the twilight of its existence. Many old time members and veteran contributors are signing off for good, lamenting how things have changed. Things have indeed changed, we have achieved everything we could have ever hoped for and now a new era begins.

I am reminded of a quote that seems to sum up the way I feel; “And Alexander wept for there were no new worlds to conquer”. Good bye ROTJ.

UPDATE Aug 8, 2011, 24:59 CST: The forum at has been officially locked for good. Darren Ford hosted a final chat session and let members post their final fair-wells before signing off himself:

It's 11:59. The big freeze. Funny, in one minute it's my 8th wedding anniversary. When hit the web I was merely engaged. Now I have an incredible son, Jake who you will all see and meet one day at Jets games. If you see me PLEASE be sure to say hi.

JETS GAMES. Wow. So cool to say.

Thank you all.

See you on The JetStream at the Winnipeg Free Press. When it is ready I will Tweet (there were no Tweets when I started this campaign) and post on, which will stay up on the web for retro viewing pleasure. Expect a week or so.

My last plug for Mission: Accomplished T-shirts at Popeyes, they will be collectibles down the road, and rare.

Also and coming this fall!

We did it.

Goodnight, my passion for so many years. As one dream ends, a new one begins. A Stanley Cup.

I need a rest, at West Hawk Lake later this month, then it's off to start a new journey. Tonight, this one gets put to rest.

Goodnight all.

Darren Hunter Ford


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